Hear Us Roar: Unapologetic Women Leading in Corporate America
Sarah Webb: Welcome to Plaid Radio. I’m your host, Sarah Webb. And I’m with today’s guest, Elizabeth Lions. Elizabeth is the author of Hear Us Roar: Unapologetic Women Leading in Corporate America. Thank you for joining us, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth Lions: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Sarah Webb: Well, tell us a little bit about this book. It’s all about working women, corporate America. When I read it, I felt like it was a mix of practical reality and advice on how to get ahead. Like what led you to write this book and give you kind of the authority in this, in this sector.
Elizabeth Lions: That’s a great question. So, I’m, it’s my third book actually. The first books that I wrote, first one I wrote was Recession Proof Yourself. The second one is I Quit and then this book on Women’s leadership. So, I write on job seeking at the technical or executive level and I also write on, on leadership topics and what I found about three years ago was the bulk of my clients in my consulting practice we’re women and many of them came to me to find a new job, but then they often were struggling with leadership issues. And so, a lot of listening and a lot of understanding what women are looking for, um, prompted me to write this book. The other piece about this book that makes it different is it resonates with the reader. So, if you’re a woman with a corporate job or even a small or privately held company, it’s going to resonate with you. I got some commentary a few years ago about the book Lean in and I asked women what did you think about that? And many of them said it was good, but you know what, she’s not talking to me. I can’t relate to her. You know, she is in Ivy League education. She’s, you know, she’s had quite a very nice life and I can’t, I can’t relate to some of what she talks about in the book. And so, I wanted this book to be for the everyday Joe or Jane, if you will, to my surprise men read this book. I thought I wrote a book on Women’s leadership. Apparently, I didn’t. And the reviews on Amazon are showing that. So that’s, there seemed to be a need in the market. I guess the short answer is there seemed to be a need in the market and I’m responding to that, to that quest for women
Sarah Webb: Yeah, I love that men are reading it, too. When I worked in corporate America and they would sometimes roll their eyes, maybe get some women’s initiatives or things like that. And I’m like, Hey, look here. Fifty percent of the population is women. At least I think we’re actually skewed higher. More of us are graduating college at a faster rate than men. Like if you want to be a leader as a male, you have to learn how to work with women. I mean, it’s not just women working with each other. Um, men have to learn how to work with women too. So, I think there’s a lot changing on that story.
Elizabeth Lions: I think you’re absolutely right. The men that have read the book, and remember we just launched this in October, but the men that have read the book, the commentary is, Gee, it’s not a book just for all women. And gee, I didn’t realize women had these struggles, this helps me to be a little more aware, a little more sensitive to how their navigating the office and not necessarily changing their behavior, but they just had no idea that, that women struggle with some of these issues that I bring up in the book.
Sarah Webb: Absolutely. So, for women, we often see this division of like I’m a woman and then my other self is being a woman in corporate America and I’m not able to bring my full self in whatever capacity that is. Maybe I hide that I’m a mother or maybe, you know, I don’t dress as feminine or wear certain colors because I perceive that in corporate America you know I have to look a certain way. Why does this division even exist in.. Is it something we’ve created ourselves or do you think it’s a reflection of kind of society as a whole?
Elizabeth Lions: It’s a great question. Why? That’s a great question. Um, I think that it is a reflection of American society. Um, I think that we’re not used to seeing women leaders, um, the last election and I don’t care where you stand on that politically. We all saw that play out and part of it was we’re, we’re, you know, as a society we’re having a hard time with it and I do think it’s coupled with what we’ve brought on ourselves. If we want to be respected and viewed as leaders, then part of the role is playing the game. Part of the role is how you dress, how you conduct yourself. Um, getting feedback, getting coaching and mentoring from people that have made it. Male or female. Um, in the book there’s, it’s chock full of data around how we got to such very low scores in, you know, C level positions for women. And I talk all the way back from, by the time a little boy or little girl is 10 years old, if you ask them equally, do you want to be president of the United States? Both will answer, both children will answer yes. And at 11, the little girl doesn’t want to do it anymore and when you look at the media and what we’re bombarded with, and again, I’m going to go back to the book and a lot of data in there around the amount of time that is spent in front of the television, in front of the computer, in front of movies, in front of, um, even in texting and I am all of the media and all of the things that little girls are subjected to, um, hours and hours of media for total. A teenager spent a minimum of 10 hours and 45 minutes on media consumption. Now that media can be watching movies, listening to music. And if you look at that and you, you go way back, you’re going to see that the males actually dominate the media. There is three percent of women are in publishing or in TV or in advertising. So, we don’t even have a voice or a presence. So, from the time a little girl is a little girl and she, she grows up in the society. The message is, you know, be pretty, you’re, you’re better off to be pretty rather than smart, you know, don’t make waves and it’s something that happens in our psyche. And, and also in the book I pointed out other countries aren’t like this, this is, this is unique to our society. Then you see it show up in corporate America, you see women struggling with leadership and we’re like, well how can this be? I mean the front that were in 2018 and we’re still talking about equal pay. It’s ridiculous. I mean we should be outraged, male and female equally. There’s no reason for this. So, you have to start to look at what am I doing and am I part of the problem and how do I want to be viewed differently. So, I think it comes with us individually cleaning up our own backyard before we can even point it to society.
Sarah Webb: I loved that the book was full of data and when you talked about the little girl and the boy wanting to be President, I actually distinctly remember was 12 years old. I was in the sixth grade and I was doing some art project. I don’t even remember what it was, and I said like, I had a female teacher and I said, you know, I’d love to see a female president, or maybe I said I want to be President, like something along those lines and she, she said, when I was 12, I don’t even know what year that was, um, that no woman will ever be president. And this was coming from an educator, you know, someone that as a child who you looked up to and then from a woman that you were like, why? I mean, like, what, it just, it just blew my mind. And so, I went home, and I was like, mom, you won’t believe what this teacher said. My mother was also an educator and, um, she was just like, well, I mean, that’s her opinion and you know, that’s what makes it hard for women to get ahead is, you know, we hold ourselves back and we tell each other that we can’t do things. Um, and I just, and I, and I distinctly remember that when you wrote, when it was in the book, I was like, wow, you know, I, you know, I still thought I could be President at that age, but I had someone actively telling me no, that I couldn’t.
Elizabeth Lions: I think that’s a part of it too, right? I’ve met a lot of women that said, um, you know, my mother actually encouraged me to get married and not necessarily go after an education. A lot of these women that shared this with me were highly creative. They’re like, you know, dear, you’re pretty. You’d make a good home and be a good mother. I don’t know that you’d cut it with an education in the working world. So, years and years ago, that was kind of the message. To your point, the data shows there are more women graduating from college. There are more women today with advanced degrees. That was the complaint back in 1980. And if you remember the divorce rate went up by 50 percent in 1980 on all these women that married 20, 30 years got spilled out into the workforce. And if you might remember, there was a movie called 9 to 5. Do you remember that with Dolly Parton?
Sarah Webb: I was thinking about how they dress and how they want it to be like men with like the bowtie, the big shoulder pads,
Elizabeth Lions: Right!? And because they didn’t know any other way to do it. And so way back then, um, they told us well you can only have these administrative positions and these service-oriented kinds of positions and not power position because you’re not educated. And from 1980 to now we’ve clearly checked that box and that’s, that was the other driver for this book. It was like what really happens? And I went really digging for the data and the science behind it right down to why do women not promote each other? Why do we compete with each other? There’s a lot out there. You just have to really dig and look for it. And I think that ultimately that’s the reason why you don’t see us in leadership, you know, I’m hoping that this book inspires women and helps them to get into leadership and gives them a new tool set. And a new way of even looking at it, you know, that that would really be my highest hope for the book or for the reader.
Sarah Webb: I definitely think it’s doing that along with evaluating how I’m responding to my little girl and what I’m showing her. Um, you know, there’s some traditional themes having it all, us against them, men against women, you know, and I hate the word. I think you addressed this “self-help” for women. It’s like women, we don’t need help. Like it’s not like, it’s not like we’re broken. I think advice or counsel just use the word “help” kind of drives me crazy, you know? What did you, what did your research uncover about some of these common themes and women’s leadership?
Elizabeth Lions: Yeah. I think your point about the self-help, you know, it’s a billion-dollar industry and I made a joke at a recent presentation. I said, you know, women in the self-help, I mean there’s always something wrong with us our butts are too big. Our marriages aren’t flourishing. There’s something wrong with our kids. Surely, it’s our fault at work. And so, we consume all these books that are basically about how to be better and how to stop being whatever, fill in the acts and the and the blank area, and we buy, and we can consume this, which just makes us feel over and over again, the subliminal messages, you’re not good enough. You’re not there yet. You need more work. You don’t see men doing this. I mean, I said this in a big audience full of men and women and it was actually a women’s leadership topic and I said, men what are you guys doing? So, you guys are out on the golf course. I don’t know. Drinking a beer. That’s not what’s going on for men. Um. They identify each other, they promote each other, they support each other. They don’t view each other as competition. So right there, entering the workplace, the moment you walk in the door, you’re in very different movies, right? Men are looking at work in one movie and women are viewing it as a very different movie and that starts that us versus them and the self-help and this endless pursuit for perfection and so forth. That’s what also inhibits us from moving ahead in leadership.
Sarah Webb: Yeah, absolutely. And one of the things you talked about was office politics and maybe I actually enjoyed office politics and not in a gamey type of way. Like I enjoyed the banter and I enjoyed creating relationships with people. Um, and that ultimately is office politics. You know, who’s doing good on a project, you know, you want them to come over to your project or you know, who didn’t do so well, you know, maybe you’re not going to ask them to be on your team. Um, how can women, you know, a lot of women felt like that was playing the game or you know, I’m going to rise above that. I’m going to go work at my desk and I’m going to work through lunch and I’m just going to show them how great I am and then I’ll get invited to be on the project and once I kinda got to the networking and more of like the WHO, you know, I mean my work still always had to prove itself. Um, but to get asked to be part of the big projects and things like that, people had to know who you are. You either had to have that mentor or some type of relationship, you know, how can women be encouraged to be more active in this game and maybe realize it’s not, it’s not a game, it’s just part of life. I mean, it’s just, it’s how you’re going to get ahead in your career.
Elizabeth Lions: Yeah, I would agree. I would agree. And the resistance to playing the game, uh, is, is the problem. So that’s really an ego problem. That’s not that the system’s broken problem. In chapter 4, I talk about that, playing the game. Oddly enough, most women don’t even realize that there’s a game being played in the office. A lot of them are completely unaware and they don’t know the rules. So first you gotta identify there’s a game you gotta understand what the rules are, the social norms, the things that you should intuitively know, or you observed. This is what the group does. This is what the group doesn’t do. You don’t blind copy people on emails, whatever it is, you know, there’s, there’s a set of rules within a culture within a workplace. And then the third thing I would suggest is that women get in there and play the game because, to your point, going to your desk and saying, well that’s dumb. I’m going to rise above it. No, no. Now we’re back into separation and division. You know, it’s, it’s a company and the game is, you’re competing, usually in a global market for products or goods or services. So that’s the game and you’re a part of a team and your team is the company logo and you’re a part of that, whether you’re the admin or in the warehouse or the CEO. You’re a part of that. So that’s the first game. And if you were on any game as a child on any field football field, a soccer field, the baseball field, if you were on any team sport, you would understand what the rules were and what you needed to do to win. And that’s your strategy of the overall game. If you back that up, your job is a part of that, no matter how big or how small you think your job is, it’s a part of that. And then you’ve got to. You’ve got to work within your team. If you’re not, if you’re sitting at your desk saying, well, that’s dumb, I’m going to rise above it. I’ll just work harder. That’s not a part of being the team and at the end of the day unless you’re an entrepreneur and by the way, this book is not for entrepreneurs, you’re part of a team. You can be a strong individual contributor. You can be at an advisory level role. You could be in a consultant role, but you’re still a part of a bigger team. You’re, you know, one is a separate box.
Sarah Webb: We need to do some more research. A friend and I have a theory that men have more of that team in that help each other out because they, they’re most like, they’re more likely to be part of competitive sports where girls are encouraged to do dance and art and theater and things like that. And I played competitive sports and in fact my parents put me on an all-boys soccer team one year and I was the only girl. I mean, and so that may be one of the reasons that the, the corporate game in the office politics didn’t intimidate me. It was, it was something that I was used to, we were part of a team. Um, and so I kind of look at, you know, haven’t done the research on there, but there’s got to be a thread there, I’ve got to unravel it and back it up. So
Elizabeth Lions: There is a, there is, um, what you’ll find is, and some of the data, I read it and it’s been some time I couldn’t even quote you the source, but women that play on team level sports tend to do a little better in the office because they are, they’re coming in with that mindset, you know, boys are, are kind of broken into two teams of, of boys. One is the problem solving and they usually go off in engineering or those kinds of tracks. But they’re problem solving. Great. So, they fixed the car with their, with their dad, they did house projects, you know, they’re more individual, they’re more solitary, but they’re problem solvers. And then when the males go into the team, they understand that they’re the problem-solving guy, they’re the go to guy that’s the common technology or they’re the subject matter experts. So again, they’re still a part of a team, but they are a strong individual contributor, but they understand they have value and they’re not, they don’t have a problem with that and they’re not overstepping either. The other little boy that grows up to a man. He played sports, so he gets very much had to go out there and be very combative and then take a knee and shake a hand with with the other teams whether they lost or won. They understand how to go into battle. You’ll see high powered attorneys that were horrific to each other in the courtroom. They will leave that court room and go have a drink at the bar. It’s set aside. It’s fine. It’s a part of life. It’s a game. It’s a role. It’s not. It’s not necessarily who they are. They can go in and do it beautifully and we as women really struggle with that because we get it all twisted up. We get it all twisted up about well she’s prettier, she’s smarter, you know, there’s this obstacle, you know, my male boss won’t give me the raise. We’ve got all this stuff going on in our heads that, you know, for, for our male counterparts, don’t exist.
Sarah Webb: That’s funny, I call that stuff, that junk in your head like that, that inner dialogue that is like so evil, not evil. It’s just negative. Like my inner dialogue has very rarely been positive. Like it, it starts off in a negative feed. Um, but what you say about men is true. My husband’s actually an attorney. We went to a holiday dinner and I said, OK, you got mad at such and such last week. You know, y’all had a pissing contest in court. I don’t know. And he goes, so we’re not gonna talk. He’s like, no, we’re sitting at their table, you know, like we’re having cake after this. And I was like, but you, you hated that person last week. Like you were, you know, even the kids knew we didn’t like this person, you know, that, you know, if they were, if our, if they’d come to our front door, we were just going to lock them out. And he goes, oh, that was last week. We’ve gotten over it, we’ve moved on and we’re working on something else together. And I was like, oh my gosh, like, you know, you acted like he was the devil. So that’s just how it is. That’s just how it is. So.
Elizabeth Lions: But what a beautiful mindset. Yeah. And then we wonder, and we get angry and we say, well, why? Why did men dominate the workplaces and why do they dominate banking and financial, construction, high tech? Why? Well, because frankly, they do it better than us, now this book isn’t about how do you do better if you, if you want to be promoted, if you’re tired of being passed up for promotion, if you’re really snippy with another woman in the office and having a hard time getting along. This book gives some pretty tangible solutions about how to get around that. Um going to your point about the thoughts and the mind. Everybody has those. Um, I’ve always discussed them as the monkey, the monkey and the mind. And the thing is you just don’t feed it. You know, the monkey is a thought that you’re whatever, not a good person. Here’s a great example. We had one woman in the last speech that I, that I gave, um, we went into this round robin about, you know, their names and where they were from and why they came to the meeting. And I was a speaker there and this one woman, she was one of the last around the table and she said, you know, I really, I just don’t think I belong here because you guys are all so accomplished and successful and you know, I just have this little accounting jobs. And I was like, wow, there it is. Your monkeys are now. We’re all looking at them and it’s that kind of confidence or lack of confidence that can bleed all over a woman. And then she says it, and now there’s a big fat seed of doubt in why she’s even there in the room. She did it right in front of us, exactly what I talk about in the book. She did it right in front of us, exactly what it talks about. That presentation on particular slide, she actually modeled it right in front of us. I actually pulled her aside gently, very gently and said, don’t ever say that again. You have absolute right to be here and you are absolutely a part of this. No need to ever say that or feel that way again. And you know, I think she got it. But, uh, it was interesting that those are the kinds of things we tell ourselves as women. I’m not saying that men don’t have the same moments, right? But it’s, it’s different. It doesn’t permeate everything they do where for women. It becomes so big, it actually can hurt her career.
Sarah Webb: Yes, absolutely. Well when you talked, um, in the book about the power of your words and how words can set us up for power or they can diminish the power, like that woman. She took her own power away when she, I mean internally she could have thought it, but then if I was a person in the audience, I’d be like, OK, well she’s, you know, she’s not confident in herself, you know, how, how can we, how can we use specific words and phrases in the workplace to build credibility? Like one of the things I took out of my vocabulary a few years ago and I even put a sticky note on my desk is like, I don’t say that I’m sorry anymore, like, because I’m not an ungrateful person and there are times to apologize, but in the work place, if there was something wrong, I wrote down, I’m not gonna say I’m sorry, I’m going to say I’ll correct it and get it back to you. Someone says, Sarah this needs to be fixed, I’ll say I’ll correct it and get it back to you, but normally I would’ve said, oh, I’m sorry about that. Let me fix it. You know, like, no, I’m not sorry anymore.
Elizabeth Lions: I like that a lot. I, yeah, I’ll correct it and get it back to. That is a great, great tip and that’s exactly it. It’s a perception. It’s things that set up very quickly for the other person on the other side of you, and they’re very subtle, but over a long period of time, the perception is, you know, she’s not confident she’s, she’s the worst is, you know, I think, I think she’s weak. I gave a presentation about a year ago and I was talking about this exact topic, but the few things you should never ever say because they diminish your credibility as a woman in the office. And I was going through the slides and there was a male in the office and he said, uh, you know, I’ve got a young woman right now, my office. And whenever she approaches me, she does this weird thing where she’s like, oh, I don’t know if you’re busy, do you have time or I’m sorry to interrupt you. He goes, there’s all this like read in to get to what she’s actually trying to ask me or tell me sometimes really important information for my job. And he was the Vice President but the most approachable, nice guy in the world. But she, I think, was struggling with title and pecking order and so he was telling me how she does this whole thing and he said, you know, she’s bright enough, she’s skilled enough. Um, she’s, she’s really a smart gal, but I don’t understand why she does that. And I stopped and I said, you know, Bruce, before I answer your question, I’m gonna ask you, um, would you promote her? And I’ll never forget it right in the room. He looked down at the table and he goes, no. I go, that’s right. And that’s what I’m telling you on these slides. So, you’re now our mirror, we’re watching this unfold in real time. You wouldn’t promote her? No, I wouldn’t. I said, why is that? He goes, I just don’t have confidence in her. If she can’t approach me to ask me a simple question, how am I ever going to have her lead a project or, you know, is it a small thing? How am I going to really have her be responsible for something even smaller than a project? He’s like, I said, that’s it. It left you with seeds of doubt. He goes, absolutely, and that’s what I’m talking about. There are small things that we say that we do every day, all day long, and then what we need to do is go back and clean up our perception. Perception is not who we are. They’re just little things that we left behind and now they’re seeds of doubt and often what you find is that’s why the woman wasn’t promoted and the women that have come to me, my coaching practice the last two years, it was not that they didn’t have the skills, or they weren’t educated. Some of them were even doing the job. It was perceptions they left behind. They needed to clean that up and we were able to work together, literally clean up the perception within 60 or 90 days and turn it around that strongly, but it’s everywhere. It’s in every email you send everything you say or don’t say at the meeting, it’s on the one on one conversations with your direct reports or your boss. I mean, it’s a big thing. It’s subtle, but it’s something that happens every day, day in and day out, and all of the communication that eventually hurts her.
Sarah Webb: It’s great that people are able to turn it around and I was like, I guess you’ll just have to leave the corporation and go work somewhere else. So, I guess there is some hope, depending on the type of damage you’ve done in the years that you’ve worked there.
Elizabeth Lions: Yeah. Every woman that I’ve worked with has, has turned it around. Now. The one thing I would say is women wait too long to get help, so I’m not advocating that I have all the answers, or this book is the answer, but if you’re struggling, you know it’s not going to get better. I mean, I have had some clients come to me when they had. Two of them came to me that had really negative reviews that shocked them. I mean, it was shocking, like they had no idea that was their perception. It was like, OK, well this isn’t a skill issue. This is a perception issue that has to be cleaned up and so you coach to that, but they never would have been there. There were a lot of bad days in the office before they got that review and they didn’t reach out and get help. So that’s, that’s the only thing can it be fixable almost always, almost always because employers really want it to work and most people really don’t want to fire you for a couple of reasons. One, it’s uncomfortable for them and two legally, it’s a pain in the neck in the United States to fire somebody. You got to have a lot of documentation. So, they, some of the companies are very risk adverse so they’re going to hang on to employees, you know, because they don’t want to go through that. So, you can really salvage quite a bit, but you just don’t want to wait so long. I haven’t had, I haven’t coached a woman. And then we did a program and then she was fired. That’s not what happened. I’ve coached a woman that got all the way through, cleaned up her perception, and then quit the job I have had that. Now she decides to leave. That’s very different. She decides she’s not going to get the support. She’s, she’s reporting to a bad leader. Um, that is never going to help her and when she decides to exit, that’s still a position of power and that’s different than getting fired. But that’s the one thing I would say is women, women wait longer and typically they wait longer than men. Men will get out of a job if they’re not promoted and they have expectations they will leave and go find it. And women will often sit and suffer.
Sarah Webb: Well tell me a little bit about, you know, we talked about Lean In and they have Lean In cirlces, as women we develop a lot of networking groups. Do you find that these groups are beneficial or is it more about complaining and griping, getting it all out?
Elizabeth Lions: Yeah, I think, I think that, um, most of them are. I have not found ones that were productive. I spend, most of them have the backbone of, um, consolation, like we’re going to console each other and not a lot of move forward. A lot of stuck in stuck in feelings. Um one of the things I love about Plaid for Women and the whole #NoMeanGirls campaign and movement, if you will, is that’s a message, right? That’s the, hey be a part of this. This is what we stand for. This is who we are, this is our behavior. #NoMeanGirls is, is very different than a lot of what’s out there. You might find some high level executive women’s groups that are, you know, very polished and have some objectives and have some goals, but a lot of the smaller ones around, no, I don’t find them to be productive or you know, it depends what you want. If you’re just looking for a new circle of friends and you can complain about work and everybody side with what you’re feeling. So maybe that works for you, you know, but if you’re, if you’re looking for some real brass tacks and that means that you’re going to change a few things. Eh, I know about that.
Sarah Webb: You dedicate on full chapter to mean girls. You identified the five components of mean girls. Can you share those with us?
Elizabeth Lions: Yeah, I really liked it because it reminds us all that we have all been mean girls at one point. Uh, we’ve all done this to another woman. Um, and it can be anything from snubbing her, it could be our own insecurities where we attack another woman. Um publicly or privately, we know when we’re doing it. You know, when, when somebody invites you to say no and you do it in a snarky manner and you and you shut her out, you also know, as a woman when the message was delivered, you could see it on her face and sometimes will discredit the other woman behind her back or behind her back in a way that would hurt her or hurt her career sometimes we’re mean girls that we don’t, you know, we are above that. You know, you talked about the woman that went back to her desk and she is above that. So, we purposely don’t join a sisterhood. We purposely think we’re above that and that’s another way that we are mean girls where we isolate and cut ourselves off from that. There’s a whole camp of women that are, uh, in, in the stance of, I don’t want to ever report to a woman. I’ll only report to men because I don’t like working with other women because women, other women are catty and this and that. Well, I, you just separated yourself out. So maybe you’re hard to work with. Do you see what I’m saying is it’s a big mirror? It’s all going to come back to you.
Sarah Webb: It is a big mirror. We’ve interviewed over a hundred women last year and talk to them about mean girl experiences. A few people in the pre-call. Um like, no, I’ve never had that. I’m like, yeah. Then you might be the main girl, like if you can’t admit. I mean there are definitely times when I’ve been less graceful than I wanted to be. Um, I mean, like you said, we’ve all, we’ve all been there, but even like as a whole, like if you can’t, if you just think nope never happened. I’m like, maybe we need to do a little bit of introspection there. So
Elizabeth Lions: What I found is, um, is that uh, we often know some other mean girl that did something to us, but we certainly don’t do it to anybody. We went to the office and they were just horrible women to work with and we just don’t understand them because… No, you’re probably passive aggressive would be my, you know, if I had to really judge and sum it up with my psychologist hat on, you’re just passive aggressive so you don’t come out in that manner which you’re doing it, you’re feeling it. And, and I loved, I loved, um Alicia Morgan, who’s a blogger for Plaid for Women. She really breaks down and I quoted her about, you know, mean girls and, and I think it’s worth contemplation. She talks about the me factor, you know, women that are very extroverted and have to have a lot of attention. Um, she talks about how mean girls actually secretly hurt. They want to be respected and they’re very hurt and um, they’re very insecure and go attack others because they really want what that other woman has, or they think they do. And so, they’ll… their insecurity will bleed all over. Um, Alecia talks about, you know, wanting to get credit. Women desperately needing to get credit above another woman. Um, and so those are kind of the characteristics, but you know, at the end of the day I’ve done it. I’ve been there, um, I have a lot more tolerance and a huge amount of compassion for women that in my perception are coming at me, if you will, are being particularly nasty because I’ve been there, I’ve been competitive. Um, I, I know what that’s like, I know what that feels like to be in that moment and, and really have to steal somebody’s thunder for my own survival. So, I get it. I have a lot more compassion for it. Um, and I try every day to, to really lived this book. I think I’ve, I’ve cleaned up a lot in my back yard, but moment to moment, like I’ll give you an example. An hour ago, a woman reached out and wanted to go to lunch with me and I got to tell ya, I don’t know her at all and I don’t see any point to the lunch. I don’t know her. She’s fallen out of the sky. She’s, you know, she’s been out dancing in my circles for three years. I don’t know. I’m not kidding you. I’ve seen her once at a meeting. If I walked into the meeting next week, I wouldn’t even recognize her. I don’t know her at all. And here she is. Well, let’s go to lunch. I’m like, why? I don’t need to go to a… What is this about? Just tell me whatever it is that you want from me and I’ll give it to you. So, there it is. Boom, there’s behavior right there. That’s what I do. And you know what I did? I didn’t just cancel the lunch and send it through Outlook. I picked up the phone and I said, hey, Mary, what is it? I got to cancel this lunch. I’m really busy. Here’s what’s going on at work. And I didn’t go on too much about it. Really busy. Um, but did you need something? I mean, did you want to talk on the phone or can I help you with anything? And that’s how I approached it because now I’m not the mean girl. I didn’t just snub her and cut her off and she said, oh, I don’t know. I just feel like I never see you and I, I saw, you know, it would be nice to connect and I was like, OK, so it really isn’t anything unless there’s more here and I can flush it out, but regardless I didn’t, I didn’t cut her off so I am still an active work in progress in this and I will tell you it’s moment to moment and situation to situation. It’s never what’s said or unsaid in my case I would have just canceled the meeting, it’s how it’s handled and if I’m going to be an advocate of, of helping and supporting other women, then I’m going to be doing this. I mean it’s, it’s a, it’s a full-time job, seven days a week, twenty-four-seven, no weekends off. This is, this is what I’m about. Then I’m bound and determined to live it, but that’s what I mean. That would’ve been a mean girl thing. There would’ve been no, no, no, no reason to just, you know, think whatever I was thinking and make a decision and just cut her off. No reason
Sarah Webb: That makes total sense and kind of like, well I feel like the first date, should be a short call and then you have coffee and then you move to the lunch, you know, you kind of have to go through the process. And that’s part of playing the game. If you go back to the office politics, that’s part of the politics and connecting with someone to take up someone’s time. I get that everybody needs to eat lunch. Um, but there’s also a process and kind of, you know, like it talks about the social norms and I mean I think that’s what’s important to understand if you’re in a corporation, like what is the thing, like the last place I worked at it’s like ate in the cafeteria and I was like, gag me, like the cafeteria, but that’s actually when a lot of business got done. Um, I just learned to like the salad bar. So
Elizabeth Lions: Yeah, that’s it. See, that’s an excellent example of how do you get along when it’s not your thing to do? How do you get along when you can’t get along? How do you do it? And I’m like, you, I’m cut from kind of your cloth. It’s like, to me, I don’t have endless amount of time to drive to lunch and chew up my lunch. I just don’t, and so I’m like get to the point. If you want something from me, I’ll give it to you. If you think I have something I probably don’t, but let’s just do this on the phone kind of thing. But you know, to your point. Some people, maybe that doesn’t happen unless you get in front of them and unless you know, unless you see them or whatever, but I just didn’t have the time and I even said to her on the phone, Hey, I didn’t want to just cancel that. I didn’t want to send the email. I wanted you to hear my voice and just pick up the phone and just tell you what was going on. But also extend to you if you need any. If you have a question or I don’t know what you need, you know, I’m here. I’m available. Because the other way it sends the message of like, don’t bother me. I’m not available. And you know, I don’t. It’s not, it’s not a good message. It doesn’t. Even if you can’t make whatever it is the appointment, or you don’t want to be around the woman, we all snub each other, and I think if we could just minimally work on not snubbing each other, we would, we would get along better and we would be further. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really is for us sometimes.
Sarah Webb: Yep. Absolutely. This has been a delightful conversation and I want to encourage everyone to go out and check out Elizabeth’s books. I know you can get it on Amazon. Can you get it into the Kindle version too?
Elizabeth Lions: Yes, absolutely.
Sarah Webb: For those eReaders. So, I’m going to go ahead and push a link to the Amazon in the show notes, but if you’ve got to Google it right now on your driving it’s Hear Us Roar. Don’t Google and drive, sorry, Hear Us Roar: Unapologetic Women Leading in Corporate America with Elizabeth Lyons.
Elizabeth Lions: Thank you. Thanks for having me. I’m such a big supporter and promoter of Plaid for Women. It’s just a great organization with a great message. And, and, uh, you guys just do such great work. So, thanks for having me. And thank you for the interview.
Sarah Webb: Absolutely. And that’s a wrap for Plaid Radio.