Audio (Podcast)

Everyone Needs a Side-Hustle: Build Your Networking Opportunities

Sarah Webb
By Sarah Webb

Catherine Bennett is a Organizational and Talent Development Manager, Public Speaker and Consultant and with over twenty-five years of experience in Organizational Development and Performance Improvement specializing in Executive Leadership, Management Training and Development.

She is a break out speaker at the #NoMeanGirls 2018 Conference sharing why everyone needs a side hustle and how to operate to fulfill your potential.


Introduction:00:09Welcome to Plaid Radio by Plaid for Women and the #NoMeanGirls movement. Enjoy today's show and be inspired to change the world.
Sarah Webb:00:18Welcome to Plaid Radio. I'm your host, Sarah Webb, and I'm with today's very special guest Catherine Bennett. Catherine is going to be one of our breakout speakers at the #NoMeanGirls Conference in September, September 21st and 22nd, and so today we're going to find out a little bit more about her and what she's talking about. Catherine is an organizational and talent development manager. She's a public speaker and consultant and she's really in that organizational development and performance improving, coaching executives and kind of helping teams be at their very best and I'm just so excited to have you here.
Catherine Bennett:00:50Thank you. It's good to be here, Sarah.
Sarah Webb:00:53Well, you've got all this professional experience, but what you're actually going to be talking to us at the #NoMeanGirls Conference is about side hustles. It seems like everybody has a side hustle these days and you're going to tell me why we need one and how we can go about doing that. So first, why do I need a side hustle? Why do you think it's so popular right now?
Catherine Bennett:01:18Well I believe, that women in particular, are being encouraged to follow their dreams and we also have bills to pay and need insurance and so we have our nine to five or whatever shift you work, midnight to 8:00 AM, but there's something inside of me that I believe is also inside of other women and men. It’s that I wonder if I could have done THIS, something that you're very passionate about, something that you enjoy, something that just fires you up, something that you believe in that motivates you, and just... I would describe it as my side hustle is what I do best. It's when I am at my best when I am doing those things.
Sarah Webb:02:09So is it like you're in the zone?
Catherine Bennett:02:12Yes.
Sarah Webb:02:13And I definitely think women, we are encouraged to more follow our dreams. I think generationally people are encouraged that they don't have to be at the same job forever and do something that necessarily doesn't fulfill them, that is kind of why you see a little bit of a side hustle. But what about from an income perspective? Are people looking to make extra money or are they worried about their full-time careers? How does that play into the psyche of the side hustle?
Catherine Bennett:02:41I think that's a great question. Some people do it for the income. For me, I'm not really doing it for the income. I'm doing it because there's a part of me that doesn't get expressed or used at my nine to five job, which I love very much, but I'm not in front of people speaking and giving presentations and I, in my own organization, I face the same people every day. I really get a lot out of going to other states, other cities and networking and sharing ideas with folks. As far as pay, I think some people get paid very well doing it. Some people, it depends who your customer is. Mine tends to be government customers, there's a certain range you can ask for and that's it. There's also a private and corporate that I think you could, if they were your customers, be getting a different type of income. So, why do it, why have a side gig, a side hustle? Because I don't want to have any regrets and I encourage all people to question, those that I know and the ladies who I work with, do you want to be at the end of your life saying, “I wonder if I could have spoken in front of 500 people? I wonder if I could have had my own business. I wonder if I could have gotten a contract with the Georgia ___________.” When you have your side business, it takes a long time, but when you have it and you're getting those contracts, there is something inside of me that says, "that's fulfilling." I would hold my hip. I know you can see me, but the viewers can't, but there's this little hole that makes me incomplete and my side business fills that hole.
Sarah Webb:04:39Well, it sounds like you've found the right fit for you and the thing is that there's all kinds of side businesses that people can do. Like you said, it's fulfilling something that you're not getting, and you have that, "What if?" And sometimes they fail. I mean it's just like any other business. Sometimes it doesn't… it's not all happy endings. What can people take away from your session at the conference that will help them have a better chance of success or fill that missing hole for them?
Catherine Bennett:05:08Well, the first thing I can tell you is that I believe one of the most interesting articles I've read, and I read a lot every morning just to stay on top of business and talent management and leadership, and there was an article by the Harvard Business Review saying your success lies with the person you have not met yet. And it was very, very interesting reading about. We tend to have this circle and we try to expand our circle. I think the people, the women, who will be coming to your conference will be coming for a lot of reasons. One of them networking, but the article challenged you, “are there some people that are in your path that you're not recognizing as an opportunity?” Just being very mindful every day that you have opportunities in front of you, are you recognizing them? Are you taking advantage of them? Some of them scare you, too. Frankly, there could be something that happens, and you get really scared because you weren't expecting it. Can I do this? Am I that great? So a takeaway is yes, you can do it. If you can dream it, you can become it. That's something that a lot of people have used, but I really believe that. I think we'll be talking about getting your business card out there and keeping it with you. It's kind of old school to have a business card. I'm showing my age, but the importance of it is that you can hand it to someone in a conversation you were prepared for or not prepared for. So you know, if I can ever assist you, you think there's a project we can work on, I'd love for you to reach out to me on LinkedIn or by this contact information because it says unexpected conversations that you have that you need to have something you don't want to take a piece of paper, here's my name, here's my phone number, or ask them if they have a business card like you having it yourself and telling me about the importance of that and leaving that with people in the conversations you have around your business card. For instance, I was at a conference presenting in St Louis a month ago and I was walking through the hallway and a woman grabbed my arm and said, hey, I really liked your program. And I was like, wow, that's wonderful. Thank you. Because you always wonder, you know, was that a great presentation? Was it, did it make a difference, did it reached anyone? And um, I said, well, my name is Catherine. And she said, well, my name is, you know. And she gave me her name and said, I'm from South Africa. And we were in St Louis, you know, and I was just like, wow, it is so nice to meet you. And she was just so interested in, in talking and learning about what I do and me learning about her and she wanted me to understand what she does and the obstacles she faces as a female in Cape Town. And um, she's got a very high-level job and you know, we, we both pulled out our business cards and then we talk to each other on LinkedIn and we've continued the conversation and I think that's the type of thing that people... I'm hoping to really, you know, touch on and if they leave with nothing else is, are you taking full advantage of your network? Are you taking risks? I think that's something we were going to talk about too. And what are the consequences of not taking risks, you know, both professional and personal. So I hope people leave feeling I can do this. I hope people leave my session saying I met some people who are doing it or know how to do it or know how to point me in the right direction. And uh, you know, I hadn't really thought about the business card thing, but I should be keeping them with me because some people are going to cross my path I wasn't prepared for that can change my life.
Sarah Webb:09:00Yeah. I don't think business cards are old school at all and I'm just a tad younger than you. And like, so even when I meet college students who are going through the recruiting process, their schools are giving them cards so that they're exchanging it. So I don't think it's an outdated practice. I mean I just feel that it's unprofessional to be like, Hey, text me your phone number. I don't know. I like, and especially if you're at a conference and you're meeting lots of people, I'm not gonna be able to remember past three or four people who I'm actually interacting with. So I love, I mean I actually have a big stack of business cards and I'll go through and be like, hey, didn't I met that guy? Or sometimes if I'm at a specific thing and I've met lots of people, I'll put, you know, maybe something unique about them or where I met them so that I'm like, oh yeah, we went to that conference together, oh that's that guy or that woman that I need to reach out to and it is a little, I'm not the best networker because I'm a natural introvert and it takes a lot of my energy, but I don't necessarily focus on the number of people that I have to meet. I don't have like this quota, but like actual authentic connections and like you said, those are the ones you actually benefit from either personally or professionally. So that, like you said, like you've interacted with this woman from South Africa. It sounds like you have this authentic connection with her. You want to see her succeed, she wants to see you succeed. And I think that's, I think sometimes we get like focused on like, oh, networking, it's, you know, oh it's crazy. We've got to meet all these people and we've got to do all this. So that's just my take on it. As an introvert, as a natural introvert.
Catherine Bennett:10:33Well Sarah, the Harvard Business Review stands behind what you just said, another...
Sarah Webb:10:36Why didn't I publish that! I could have published that whole paper!
Catherine Bennett:10:41You could have! Sarah, Sarah, there's still time, but they wrote an article and I posted it because I thought it was really, really interesting and something that you don't read a lot about is how introverts have the best and strongest networks because there's this expression of what extroverts do is go and work the room, I'm going to work the room and what you're doing is running around giving out your business cards, not making a connection. Really. There are people who go about it that way. An introvert is someone who tends to say, tell me about your family. You know, are you enjoying the conference. I find that very interesting. That shirt you're wearing. Can you tell me a little bit more about that organization? Do you belong to that society? They ask different questions than extrovert asks and all the training say run around the room. Run around that. I've said it, I've stood in front of people and said it, but I posted that article because I thought it was really important to understand the different conversations an extrovert has in a networking session and an introvert has, the introvert is going to have a much, according to this article, going to have a much deeper, richer conversation and make a connection in the relationship rather than an extrovert who might just make small talk and pass the card, hey, if you could use me or you know, somebody who could use my business, here you go. Rather than making a true connection like that woman from South Africa. She shared her whole life in front of me and I was totally not prepared for that and you know, but for that moment we were both in the right place at the right time and that was the type of connection we made some rather than, hey, can we do business? Can you fly me to Africa? It was more do you want to come back here to the states. It was much more rich conversation just about learning who she was as a person.
Sarah Webb:12:41Yeah. Amazing. Well, let's back up a little bit because you're definitely out there and I know you're going to talk to us about your side hustle, but share with us a little bit of your personal journey, like you know, what do you do full time, what do you do as your side hustle and how has that transitioned over time?
Catherine Bennett:12:59Okay. My training is an educator and I started my first 12 years educating students at the college level and worked at a couple of colleges and universities and I quickly got burned out and I felt that the students deserve someone who had more energy. I had two boys in diapers at the time and husband going through college, so I felt like I needed to change my field. I liked what I did, but I just felt like there was something missing and so I took a move to Atlanta over 20 years ago. I decided to try training and that's teaching adults not training, like let's do 20 pushups because I couldn't do that, but training in the workplace, soft skills, hard skills, leadership, talent development, that type of thing. And I've worked primarily in government circles, local government circles. I've worked for the University of Georgia and did work there with government officials and I am currently working for Athens Clarke County as the organizational development administrator. And the common thread through all of my jobs is that I had been in front of people trying to encourage them that they can do it, that every day people do extraordinary things and there are so many opportunities and teaching moments in life in general. And I enjoy being in there and you know, hopefully at the end of someone's days they look back and say, you know, there was this Catherine minute and she said something at a conference that really gave me hope, you know, or something like that. So that's kind of the business that I'm in. My side business... I love presenting. And so I like to go to conferences and give presentations around some of the topics you've already talked about. I love executive coaching and helping people say, here's where I am, here's where I want to be, how do I get there? And kind of drawing a map. And um, I love kind of trying to understand a problem that an organization is facing and see if there's a way that we can talk about process improvement or facilitations, retreats, kind of all those things I do here in my job. But I also like doing it on the road just gives me a kick.
Sarah Webb:15:31A kick. I love it. Okay. So I'm going to kind of jump in there. I always think about speakers like how do you like sometimes you know, we have like a message inside of us and we just want to share it with the world. And like you said, like you'd love that getting up and speaking like, were you like a little girl who did dance or tumbling or something like that and was on the stage like, is this something that you've kind of always like, you know, enjoyed that piece? Because I see honestly, my daughter is like a little entertainer and I'm like, oh my gosh, you know, part of it is, it's funny and it's cute, but I'm like, okay, how is this going to translate into the adult? Is that something you did as a child?
Catherine Bennett:16:05Yeah, but I didn't have audiences. It's funny I hadn't really thought about it, but what I would do is my hero was Lucille Ball and I just loved her. Carol Burnett, these classic ladies that could just make you laugh with a face that they make and so I would stand on my fireplace like what you have behind you and other viewers can't see it and stand on the fireplace. And I would do my act. Nobody was in there and I would do my act and I would do, you know, routines and you know, I had to do facial moments. I would like fall on the floor. I would practice my physical comedy. And then I just found it as a habit when I was in a group, you know, is if everyone's telling stories, I'll tell a story, but I stand up and tell my stories all the time. It's just a habit. If you're in my office and talking to me, I'm probably going to stand up and use my hands and you know, explain my story that way. And then I just think I was in sports, so I was used to people watching what I'm doing and watch me make mistakes, watching me do great things, watching me, you know, have to go through difficult things. So I was used to people watching. But there was just something about me wanting to give back in, in being a teacher, being an instructor, being a facilitator. All those things give back to people who are up and coming, showing them the way and giving them hope that yes, you can do it. You just one step away.
Sarah Webb:17:37Mmm, I love that. Besides Lucille Ball has been one of your mentors or someone who's had an impact on your life.
Catherine Bennett:17:41When I thought about this question because it's a great question and I would have to say that my husband has been, had the greatest impact. It was a tie between my husband and my dad. That was a tough decision. But I believe that my husband has taught me unconditional love, um, in the most difficult of times. In the happiest of times. Something that is unwavering. And he said, you might wonder about the rest of the world and where you fit. What they think of you, but you'll never ever have to wonder about how you fit with me and our home and you know, that's really reassuring, you know, and so I think having him as my anchor has allowed me to run around and do this side hustle, knowing that he's going to keep me grounded and look out for me, make sure I'm not doing three gigs in one week on top of my job or something like that.
Sarah Webb:18:40I have an incredible spouse too. And I think even in the book, Lean In with Sheryl Sandberg, she talks about the support that she had from her spouse and I think as, as women are advancing in corporations and things like that. It takes a family unit. I mean the model that I saw was definitely men who had a stay at home wife to take care of their family because they were working long hours or maybe if they were traveling a lot. And I think, you know, we're going to see a little bit of that shift as not necessarily that men stay home, but men take that role, that really big support role. Because I interview a lot of women and a lot of them have a very strong foundation in their spouse or a partner, you know, lifting them up and letting them... I don't want to say, letting them because that's like a permission word, but you know, cheering them on and saying, hey, you can do this and these are people who see the goodness of you and the ugliness of you. And so to have someone like that kind of tell you, you got this, you can do this. And sometimes speak truth into you and be like, hey, you need to cut it back a little bit. Like, that's not good for you. Like you said, three engagements in one week. Like you're going to be exhausted and by the third one you're probably not even going to be great for your audience. But to be able to have someone share that with you, I think that's amazing.
Catherine Bennett:19:54Exactly.
Sarah Webb:19:55What is one interesting fact about you?
Catherine Bennett:19:58Well, I think the thing people wouldn't ever guess about me is that I tried out for an Olympic team, um, when I was in college, um, I played the sport of field hockey. And um, I did not want to have regrets and look back and say I wonder if I could have made it. So I went through the program and there's different levels for different levels and I made it through three and didn't get to the last level and it just, I never felt sad. I never cried. I never was angry. I just said I gave my absolute best and got it to this point and I can live with that and I have to understand, you know, what my limitations are and what my abilities and skillsets are. But at least now I know and you know, I kind of just went on my merry way. Just glad that I tried and I don't talk about it a lot. But I think for this particular interview I thought it important to say even when I was in college, I was trying to shoot for the stars, you know, because of an encouraging family that believed in me.
Sarah Webb:21:04Did you play field hockey for the college team as well?
Catherine Bennett:21:09Yes, at Michigan State University.
Sarah Webb:21:14Ah... field hockey is not overly popular in our area. But it's growing. And so I find, especially for girls sports, I feel like that's a rough and tumble sport.
Catherine Bennett:21:22It is!
Sarah Webb:21:22Like, for girls it's like almost the equivalent to... do boys play field hockey?
Catherine Bennett:21:27Yes.
Sarah Webb:21:27OK. Because I always equate it like when I say rough and tumble I'm like, it's like rugby, like you know, like in basketball and all these other sports, you're technical, you know, you're not supposed to touch each other and get fouls and all this. But I feel like field hockey, it's like you're kind of supposed to be a little bit aggressive.
Catherine Bennett:21:45Exactly. And my mother, forced me to try out for the field hockey team because we had just moved to a new state. I didn't know anybody. She's like just try this. And I didn't want to. I was completely against it because they wear skirts when they play. And I was just like, I am a Tomboy, I am not doing that. And she forced me to go and I'm sitting there and the coach said, you know, we're gonna need four goalkeepers. And I was in ninth grade and I leaned over to some woman and I was like, does the goalkeeper have to wear a skirt and she's like, no, and I say, I'll be a goalkeeper. The rest was history. It was just an amazing start to something that you know my mother forced on me and why I chose it because I didn't want to wear a skirt and it really impacted the rest of my life.
Sarah Webb:22:31Yeah, that is amazing. Well, as you know, Plaid for Women is all about supporting each other and creating this judgment free space where women can really define their own success, but also lift each other up and celebrate the success that we have in each other's life. Have you ever received mean-girl treatment before? I mean, was that when you kind of talk about the field hockey? To me that's girls in high school and sports was there, you know, mean girl behaviors around some of that sometimes.
Catherine Bennett:22:56Oh yeah. I thought it was really probably the best question out of all of the questions because it's something that I haven't personally thought deeply about, but when I started thinking deeply about this and preparing for the interview, I thought, you know, it, it started as early as fifth grade. I remember distinctly someone bullying me in fifth grade and in high school I wasn't in the popular group, you know, I wasn't one of the beauty queens or you know, the, the smartest person or the most popular. In college, you know, it was very competitive. You are trying to get a spot. So there was always a winner or a loser. So I think some people did some mean things to get ahead and make that team, make that cut. And uh, that was the ugly part of sports. But then I thought about, you know, since I've been in the workforce, I think there's a lot of mean girls, that's why I love what y'all are trying to do. I just think it's absolutely amazing women lifting up women because women can spend some time tearing down other women for whatever their reasons are. You know? And I was trying to think of reasons women are mean. Like to this day in my workplace or workplaces I've been in, there's jealousy and intimidation. I used to get treated mainly because of my education is I have a master's degree and when I would be in a circle of people and they'd say, so what do you do? I said, Oh, I'm a teacher, and they always say what grade? And then when I'd say, well, it's actually not a grade, it's college. There was silence and suddenly I had separated myself from this group and I thought you know what, but I still am a mom and I like snickers bars and I have things to say. Don't judge me on that.
Sarah Webb:24:57Well and the difference between a high school senior and a freshman, it's really not. It's the summer. So it's, it's not, you know, here's the...
Catherine Bennett:25:05Exactly!
Sarah Webb:25:06Even at that age you are classified as an adult. It means you can make more permanent decisions but you still need a lot of training and teaching and all of that. So that's interesting. I hadn't heard that one. And when you talk about fifth grade, I mean that's what some of our research indicates. That negative friend behavior really starts around fourth and fifth grade, around age 10. And it has to be something chemically because I don't know what else is going on. I haven't cracked the code on that, but you know, there's something about girls at that age where they filled that they have to start shoving others down for that spotlight. And so we're working really hard, you know, we do talk a lot about women and how women need to support each other and we know that. I mean, underlying women know that we need to support each other. If someone tells me they haven't had a mean girl experience, I'm kind of like, well maybe you're the mean girl. There may be something going on there. That's okay. I mean we're all adults, but you know, we're working really hard. We're rolling out a youth program this fall that really works with girls ages 10 to 14 to kind of help them develop that confidence that they're not impacted by bullying, but also build up empathy so that when they see something else, you know, they're not being the bully themselves. When you talk about that fifth grade, like that's where we start seeing that behavior.
Catherine Bennett:26:23Yeah. You know, it's amazing to be my age, which I won't share, but it's 50 something, something, something that I can still remember exactly where I was sitting, what was said to me and my feelings when it happened. I've never forgotten it. So I think you're onto something with your research, your programs and I totally applaud that.
Sarah Webb:26:47Well thank you. I am so excited to have you at the #NoMeanGirls conference. I think it's going to be great for people to, if they're thinking about a side hustle or maybe there, you know, branching that out in there to come and listen to your breakout session on how to build networking opportunities as well as kind of thrive in this side hustle era. You know, you don't want it to take over your life unless you do like how do you kind of set those boundaries on what you're wanting to do. So I know that's going to be great information for our attendees. So how can our listeners, if they're interested in hiring you to be a speaker or learn more about your journey, is there a place online they can go and check that out?
Catherine Bennett:27:24Yes. I have a website, I also can be reached by phone at 678-979-2034. And I have a very simple email address
Sarah Webb:27:54I love it! That is easy. You will never be able to hire anyone with a first name that starts with a "C," but I'll put all those links in our show notes so our listeners can go and learn more about you and go check out, Catherine's full bio and I think if you click on her icon, you'll definitely find her, and come sign up for her breakout session. Again, thank you so much and I'll look forward to seeing you in just a short while.
Catherine Bennett:28:18Sounds great. Thank you Sarah.
Sarah Webb:28:21And that's a wrap for Plaid Radio.
Sarah Webb
A bit about me, I'm a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, employee and volunteer. I am married and have two children - one who aspires to be a secret spy ninja and the other wants be a doctor for toys...Read More
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