EECO Asks Why Podcast

195. Women of Industry - Leadership Panel

March 02, 2022 Electrical Equipment Company Season 7
EECO Asks Why Podcast
195. Women of Industry - Leadership Panel
Show Notes Transcript

Get ready for one of the most impactful conversations ever on EECO Asks Why!  In 2020 we had a series that focused on Women in Engineering and those stories resonated with so many people.  In 2022 we wanted to serve you by bringing panels of women together to share their insight on topics that are critical to industry.  The panel featured in this episode focused on the topic of leadership and their insight was nothing short of spectacular. 

Joining the panel we had returning guest Natalie Birdwell, Megan Samford, and Lee Chapman. These ladies covered it all and gave a true behind the scenes look at what leadership looks like for women in industry.

They unpack items such as:

  • What is different for women in leadership positions?
  • Is it a level playing field?
  • What are some of the biggest moves forward industry has made?
  • What does work/life balance look like?

This conversation covers it all and we hope it provides hope and inspiration for the next generation of women leaders that industry desperately needs.  Share this message with your daughters, nieces, aunts, and mothers as there is a great opportunity in front of us to support women as industry continues to grow and thrive in this country.

Natalie Birdwell - VP of Strategic and Corporate Development at
Megan Samford - VP and Chief Product Security Officer - Energy Management at Schneider Electric
Lee Chapman - President at TREW Marketing

Dare to Lead by Brene' Brown
Influence by Dr. Robert Cialdini
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

Tweetable quotes:

  • "Define success on your own terms. Achieve it by your own rules. And build a life that you're proud to live."
  •  "The first rule of any game is to know that you're in one."
  •  "There's a lot of things that sometimes happen that are out of our control and it's how we choose to respond to that."

Host - Chris Grainger
Executive Producer - Adam Sheets
Podcast Editor - Andi Thrower

Industry War Story Submission: Send us a DM!

00:00 Chris: 

Welcome to EECO Asks Why  we have a very special episode today and we're tackling women of industry. It's talking specifically about women and leadership, and I have a panel. It's an amazing panel. A couple of returning guests. I have Natalie Birdwell. She's returning from an I have Megan Samford, she's returning with us she at Schneider Electric and then we have Lee Chapman. She's at Trew Marketing and EECO Asks Why listeners may know Wendy Covey at Trew marketing, when I told Wendy what we were doing. She's like, you got to get Lee on here. So I was like all right Wendy, we trust you. We love you. So we were so excited to have Lee.

So thank you ladies for joining us. I'm so excited to see how this conversation evolves and where we go. Where are you? Where are you taking? And maybe, Natalie get us started. When you think about women in leadership, what's different for those women in leadership positions, in the industrial sector.

01:00 Natalie: 

Sure. Well, thanks for us for getting us together today. And I'm excited to be here, both with Lee and Megan. So, I'm looking forward to our conversation. Difference. I think there's a fair amount of difference. I think it kind of depends on what stage of your career that you're at, but one of the things that really pops out in my head is so much of industry. A lot of us have really technical backgrounds and have been focused on kind of the tactical. And it's, that adage of what got you here isn't going to kind of take you to the next step. And so being able to even though we're in really technical industries and it's focused on, that tactical aspects and how to get things done, it's being able to do that transition to the what we're trying to do and why we're trying to do it to take that kind of leadership angle to the next level.

And I see that in a lot of ways, especially for women, you want to kind of, make sure that you deliver and get all of the things done. And all of the things checked off the list and having that little bit of shift in mindset to remember, "Hey we need to keep our eye on establishing the what and the why," as you're moving into to those leadership roles.

02:12 Chris: 

Very good. How about, when you think about that, Megan what comes to mind for you? 

02:16 Megan: 

Particularly for me, I think being a female leader in this industry is really about, in my experience, creating space in that I think that when you're very clear as a leader on the impact that you're trying to drive for an organization, and generally you will allow everyone on the team to understand what their role is.

Everyone's role is respected and they're allowed to play that role. I think that people are very responsive to that type of leadership style. And generally, as a leader, I try to get out of people's way. I try to give them a space to do their job and be empowered to do their job and to drive impact and as long as we're clear about everyone's role being respected and then being allowed to drive that impact people naturally step up to the plate. It's kind of the mentality of being your own mini CEO. It doesn't matter how large or how small your program is. If you are a leader that is respected and people feel respected under your leadership and feel that they're being trusted and that their role is being respected. The impact and the results tend to naturally follow that order. 

03:28 Chris: 

No doubt. Absolutely. I love that mini CEO mentality. That is so critical. How about you Lee? 

03:34 Lee: 

Yeah, I think a lot of what Natalie and Megan had said, really, echoes with me and I would say setting strong expectations is always key. Listening, you know, as you move up in the leadership ranks, it becomes less about you doing the work and more about you managing and directing the work of others. And sometimes that can be really tough. A lot of us are sometimes control freaks, we're multitaskers or used to checking all the boxes. And so really stepping back and looking at where you can have the most impact in your organization and recognizing that's going to look a little bit different and enabling others to grow up through the ranks, I think is something that we try to focus on. 

04:15 Chris: 

I've been reading a book lately and it's talking about, from a traditional management standpoint and try to like direct and it's shifting to coach the coaching mindset and that servant leadership serving others, and that takes a different of philosophy and approach, particularly when you're managing people to be able to give up that control and try and give people some autonomy to make, to make decisions for their own, given that flexibility.

04:37 Lee: 

And to fail, right? I mean, which as women, a lot of us grew up feeling like what fail, we can't fail. We have to be perfect. And I always tell people take perfect out of your vocabulary. If you're not pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, if you're not afraid to risk anything, you're not going to be able to achieve. And so I think, again, as much as we can mentor and coach, as you said, Chris, that into kind of this next generation of female leaders. So they feel like they've got that kind of permission to not have to be perfect, but to help be a part of a failing forward. 

05:10 Chris: 

That's right. That's right. I love it. I love it. Now, again, with this series, we won't try to touch on some topics and get to the heart of what's important, particularly for our listeners out there that are wanting to learn. So just, straight forward question, is it a level playing field for women in industry right now? 

05:26 Natalie: 

Yeah, I think it's evolved, you know, I look back over my career and I think there's definitely some advantages that have come about. And I think that there's definitely still some of those hurdles just from a kind of mentality standpoint. Women coming into leadership roles, Lee had a great point there, of that perfectionism, right. And so I'm trying to kind of level that playing field from an expectation standpoint, even as of yourself, as you, you're starting to rise through the ranks. I'm starting to see a lot more folks that are advocates early on in my career, that was, if there wasn't really a strong female leadership within the company, then there wasn't a lot of advocates for females rising within the company.

And I'm starting to see a lot of that change, which I think is great. Both you know, across the board and a lot of the efforts around DEI and you're seeing small companies and large corporations are taking on and starting to put forth, I think some the meaningful change at a personal level, not just at an organizational level. I think there's a lot of positive shifts in the types of leaders that we're seeing emerge these days which I think is starting to level up. 

06:41 Chris: 

You're seeing a moving in the right direction? 

06:44 Natalie: 

I think we're taking some positive steps. 

06:47 Chris: 

Some good steps. That's good. That's progress. That's progress. How about you Megan? 

06:51 Megan: 

Yeah, I believe that the playing field is definitely being leveled in terms of women being able to be in a position to be leaders within this industry. I feel like the door is open. The door is open for females to walk through and have a significant leadership presence in the industry. I think that the industry is very receptive to it. You see recruitment numbers for female leaders in our industry skyrocketing. We see the pull. We see that the door is open. I think that where the challenge and good work still remains is a quote that my boss actually said a few weeks ago and I wrote it down and I almost want to like tape it on my wall. And that's, the ability as leaders to deal with the day-to-day tension that is required to impose a new reality. And really it's the day-to-day tension and being able to sit with that tension and to kind of push through it, to push through the tension that's required to impose new change and a new reality. That is really the skill. The one skill I would say that's required to be a female executive in this industry. 

08:07 Chris:

 So is that tension more for the female executives? 

08:10 Megan: 

I think it, can be depending on how you position yourself on certain topics. Right? I think that as females we naturally are skilled at diplomacy. We know how to connect people. We know how to bring people in. We know how to elicit response and input to problems. I think in some cases, what feels a bit unnatural is the tension, is the positive conflict, right? And understanding positive conflict versus, a personal criticism or we may be afraid to be viewed as being in disagreement. And being able to sit in that disagreement. And to disagree, but in a positive and constructive way and how others may view us as being willing to kind of come down on topic hard. Whereas our male peers while the diplomacy may not come as naturally to them the conflict and the ability to kind of sit in a messy problem, I think can come more naturally to men because they're brought up and raised in a way where, conflict and competition is more healthy.

09:13 Lee: 

That's a great point. And I feel like building on that. Something I heard recently my son is a freshman this year, majoring in computer science at Colorado School of Minds, and they were really emphasizing. It's not about competition. It's about collaboration. And I was like, yes, that's exactly it. It's going from this more typically traditionally competitive world and leadership and getting to those leadership positions of how do we collaborate? How do we build through teams to kind of help open those doors? And I think Megan you're right. The kind of the diplomacy skills that women tend to bring to the table. The listening skills that we have, I think really are a nice balance. I think it levels of the entire executive team to have this balance and diversity.

You know, I'll say that, when I previous to Trew I worked at National Instruments and when I hired on at National Instruments in the early 2000s there were no women on the executive team and leadership roles at national instruments. Today there's dozens. So I definitely see that, Natalie, as you were saying, the doors are now open. And. I think much more receptiveness to the value that women leaders can bring. And I think it's doing it on our terms, not following the traditional mold for what it means to be a leader, but bringing our assets, our strengths to the boardrooms.

10:30 Natalie: 

I love that Lee because there's in that collaboration aspects and there's two sides of that, right? Like if you have the collaboration mindset of everyone in the room has that mindset then kind of these predispositions or assumptions of like you were saying, if you take a hard stand, sometimes that's interpreted differently than if your male counterpart takes a hard stand. And so, if everybody comes to the table with that collaboration mindset, it's such a game changer, I think. 

10:59 Chris: 

I agree, completely agree with all that. I mean, when he's, when you think about where i get a lot of my good ideas and try to bounce them off, it's with my wife. I mean, I think that she gives me that perspective and that, and I take that collaboration to heart because, I may be saying that this point, or this view, this one way, because of just my male mind, she can bring a whole other approach that I hadn't considered. So I think when that gets to the boardroom and executive level and leadership that's where real change happens, and I am curious, and maybe Lee kick us off on this one. So I'll give Natalie a break from going first.

What's you're seeing out there at Trew, you and Wendy, you definitely get you're leading the company. What are the biggest moves forward for women wanting to pursue those types of roles in industry? What are you seeing? 

11:54 Lee: 

I would say, the biggest moves and thanks in some to the pandemic is just this increased flexibility. Right? And I think men, I think everyone benefits from this too. The flexibility, the remote working style and the tools that help us, wherever we are, I think that businesses are now kind of waking up to the fact that you don't have to sit in traffic every day, work in a cubicle and be visibly present 10 hours a day to be a great leader in your company. And so I think having this tools and the flexibility that keeps us all really mentally present and productive, I think that's been a game changer for women. I think that's going to enable more women to assume leadership. 

12:32 Chris: 

What about you, Megan? What are your thoughts? 

12:35 Megan: 

Just in terms of bringing more women into leadership?

12:38 Chris: 

Yeah, for sure. What are some of the biggest moves forward for bringing those women into leadership work type roles? Lee was just talking about that increased flexibility that's being offered right now. Just curious what you're seeing it, maybe a Snyder. 

12:52 Megan: 

In my mind, the biggest hurdle that I see women encounter, especially in engineering fields. Is that again, I think the door is wide open for attracting female talent in engineering people. People are recognizing the need. There are many DEI initiatives where I see and when I mentor other women in the industry, it's getting that first management role, that seems to be kind of the hardest rung in the ladder.

I was mentoring some ladies last week in a group session. And I was saying to me, the hardest step in my career was getting the opportunity to lead a team that once you get that first rung in the ladder, you're able to progress and to climb once you're in that leadership pool.

I think that the way that most companies work is that once you're a leader, you're kind of defined as being put on the leadership track and the opportunities seem to present themselves and become more readily available. But getting to that first step on the ladder where you are officially a manager and you have folks reporting to you, that's the hardest part.

And then that's the challenge that I haven't necessarily figured out how to help guide people on other than suggesting to them that they've positioned themselves in discussions with management, where they could maybe take on a team lead position initially, where maybe they're not an official people leader, but they're officially managing a process or they're pulling and coordinating people together. That's really the first step in my mind when it comes to getting women in positions where they can be promoted to running a team and then are being considered an escalated up the ladder for promotion.

14:38 Chris: 

It's like practice and getting at bats, right? 

14:44 Megan: 

Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Getting the experience, getting on the radar in some, in some cases and believe it or not. I do still see where women don't speak up and make it very known that they are interested in a leadership role. I think that there's a mentality with women where we believe if I'm doing a good job, if I am reasonable to get along with, if I show up to work and I'm a team player and I don't behave like a jerk, that I will make it to management, that someone in leadership will recognize that I'm a great person and I will be installed as a manager.

And this will happen to me and I will wait my turn. And there's a logical sequence to these good things happening to me in my career. And. I just haven't seen that. I have seen evidence of the best women, the smartest women, the most capable, the most collaborative, where they just don't get the opportunity because they don't speak up and they don't say I want that management role. Tell me what I need to do to get it. 

They're not as vocal I think as men in communicating precisely what they want, they believe that systems work and they believe that the system will eventually select them and things will happen naturally, but in reality, I always encourage women tell your manager, tell them, Hey, I would love to make it to a leadership position in three years. That's the target. Can you help me get there? Do you know of other teams, if there's not going to be an opportunity on our team to create another leadership role? Great. Sometimes it works out that way, but is there another opportunity on another team and can you help me get there?

16:31 Chris: 

So be clear, put your goals out there, and vocalize it. 

16:35 Megan: 


16:37 Chris: 

That's great advice.

16:40 Natalie: 

I think that's great advice, Megan, because there's someone outside of our organization told me a couple of weeks ago. She said, I feel like I just need to be more of a jerk to be able to move up and be more forward, like you're saying and don't hesitate on that ask, but ask in a direct way and let the big pause happen and be really clear about it. And that you're not feeling like you're getting support and progressing, network and look for other opportunities where you can get support and that way and where people are open, in a smaller organization.

And as we're in a high growth mode, a lot of times this comes up and I'll take it kind of from the management perspective. Right. Okay. When you're looking to hire, and if you're having to hire a lot of folks from the outside the organization do you hire them into their first management role from outside the organization or are you trying to look for folks internally to elevate within the organization as well?

And we sit squarely in the middle of that for both as far as, kind of a high growth stage company. That management aspect of being able to open the aperture a little bit, say, Hey, yeah let's think about bringing in some folks that maybe like Megan was saying they haven't been a manager for 10 years, and, but they may bring a lot of other things to the table that could be really valuable and payoff quickly and, long-term as well. 

So the other thing that I would add to both that flexibility Lee that you were talking about, because I've seen that just really change the opportunities I feel like for dual career households and being able to have that flexible environment. And I think, 15 years ago that wasn't the case at all. It was very different even probably five years ago. The shift is too, I think having women on boards and seeing it, we're still a privately held company, but you're starting to see more women on boards for publicly traded companies, as well as, as privately held. 

And I think having that. Diversity of influence at the board level and at that CEO level. And when you're having those conversations on growth and kind of you're looking at the top leadership and having more diversity in your top leadership as well. I feel like having, you know, more women on boards is such a great driver.

And then kind of has that opportunity to trickle down while you're, you know, investing in the core of your business and elevating those folks into management opportunities, right. And having folks that are really direct, like Megan was saying, Hey, I want to do this. I want to get here in three years. Let's put together that plan and that path. So, you know, the holistic approach of throughout the entire organization, because when you start to elevate into those management positions is there's no one else at the top. That's kind of driving that inclusion and that diversity then 

19:48 Chris: 

for sure. Absolutely. So I'm curious for this , you three ladies, phenomenal leaders, but I am curious because, you know, COVID has shifted so much in our lives and the way we work do it. And everybody's talked about flexibility and the way the world's changing, how are you keeping a healthy work-life balance? What does that look like now? For women in leadership and Megan, you haven't kicked us all for leading us off on the answer so that you can start us off with this one. 

20:20 Megan: 

Oh, I always laugh at work-life balance because I do a horrible job. There is no work-life balance. I mean, so many years ago when I was at GE, there is a female executive that came in and I was like starry-eyed. I was like, oh my gosh, this person is here, she's visiting us. I'm awstruck. And someone asked her the same question. How do you do work-life balance? And she was like, I do a horrible job, honestly. It's horrible. It's all over the place. And I really feel that. And I still really feel that I have two kids. I have a husband. I'm pretty sure my husband still wants to remain married to me. But I mean, at one point in my career, I was traveling 60% of the time he was at home with the kids. And this is really funny. And Lee and Natalie, I want to ask you if you've had the same thing happen, if you have children and you travel.

But whenever I travel if I'm meeting new coworkers and things like that I find that they'll try to engage in small talk, it's polite. It's we're exchanging, we're getting to know one another and they'll say, oh, You traveled in for the meeting, how are things going? You know, Oh, you've got a husband and kids, how are the kids, how old are they? And then it's like, oh, where are the kids when you're traveling? And I've gotten into the habit of like joking with them now where I'm just like, oh crap. Like I just forgot about the kids. I don't know where they are. Right. But it's like, you would never ask a man like, oh, what are you doing with the kids? Where are the kids? Right. But they asked women because it feels natural and it feels like a conversation starter and they're not trying to offend me or anything like that.

And so I joke, they're trying to establish connection with me. I had the courage to be vulnerable and to throw a joke out there to lighten the moment because it is it's a lot, it can be a lot of stress. I mean, anyone that says that, it's not stressful to be a female executive or to be traveling or trying to manage, middle-school recitals on this, or, first grade, my son can't sit still in his desk and, we're having issues there and trying to work through different things.

All of that still comes into play. And sometimes I feel like I do a horrible job of it, but I think we all do. But again it's that I go back to the concept. Can you sit in the tension of dealing with it, right. And can you maintain a positive attitude and can you see kind of the silver lining through it all? Because the work's important. I love the work. The family's important. I love them too. And I guess that there is a balance, but with myself, I personally never feel like I do a great job, but in reality, I guess we're all fed and we're all warm. Goals are being met. So I guess it all is working out, but I don't know any female that personally believes that she's knocking it out of the ballpark with work-life balance.

23:16 Lee: 

I think you're right. And I've absolutely had that happen to me when I've been traveling Megan, where I have had a well-intentioned person I'm meeting with asked me where the kids are and I'm like, No, my husband's, obviously my husband's looking out for them. Like there I did remember them. They're around.

One of my first jobs right out of college was with a state agency here in Texas. And the, it was, I mean, it was back in the nineties where there was just a thing where it was like, we're going to have work-life balance. I would travel Texas and I would talk to these companies about how to help them set up work-life balance. And it was always funny. It was never, there were never men in the room. It was only the women in the room. Those were the people who came to these sessions to learn about it, because it wasn't seen as something that men needed to worry about. But if you were going to be a career woman in the workforce, you needed to learn early on, these tips and tricks to have work-life balance, which, we know it's a goal, it's a dream, but it's tougher, much tougher to achieve.

You know, I would say now, you know, now I'm an empty nester. It's seeming great, but I remember those days of like coming home from work and you're picking up your kid from daycare and your making the bottles for the next day and cooking dinner and you're hoping you're going to get to sleep at night because you've got a huge presentation the next day. And I do feel really lucky that, my husband has definitely carried his share of the workload as well, or I wouldn't have been able to do what I've done. There were times we were traveling where we, high-five each other at the airport and our moms were able to step in and look after the kids, if we both had something going on, but we've tried to have that collaboration in our marriage too.

So both of us can have the careers that we want to have. And that, like you said, Megan, the kids are fed, we're healthy. And when I traveled my goal when I came home, is the house doesn't have to be clean. I just think everybody needs to be alive. Like, that's the goal, as long as everybody's alive, we're winning. And I think it's getting easier. There's more of an openness to everyone understanding that. I have men tell me all the time on calls. Oh, do you mind, I'm just going to hold my baby on the call. My wife's, another room on it. I love that. I feel like that was something you didn't see five or 10 years ago. It just seems like men are really stepping up in a big way and supporting their wives. And so I think through that, we'll never be perfectly equal in work-life balance, but I think it's getting better. 

25:27 Chris: 

I got to jump in here real quick cause you just mentioned something literally happened yesterday. Our baby, we have a three month old and we got a call for a daycare to called me. So I went and picked her up. I was in a one-on-one meeting and I was like, I got to go. I'm going to call you back. So when I call him back about an hour later, I was like, We're doing this one-on-one but my three month old is in my lap. So that's just the way it is. And he was like, Hey bro, let's do it. So we just see you sit there. And she was good. I had to put her pacifier in every now and then, but you know, that's now reality. Like that's not unheard of, right? So, great examples. I'm curious, Natalie. What's your take? 

26:07 Natalie: 

I do a terrible job. I have a husband. I have a young daughter and my husband's schedule is all over the place. Very crazy. Two very focused careers of trying to advance both of them at the same time. Luckily the village is key. We've had some help. My mom has been a big help with us of kind of covering those gaps spaces and those middle grounds like Lee was talking about I kind of think back and I remember for probably for people out there listening it's I remember before I had kids. And I've gotten the same questions like, oh, well, who's taking care of the kids. Well, she's in the hotel room. It's fine. She's got, let's just, laugh about it. 

But before I had kids, there was a couple of poignant moments that I remember. I was standing in a conversation. It was at a trade show and there were all male leaders of our company that were in this conversation. And without even thinking, somebody was talking about what was going on with their kids and what was happening at home. And somebody said, oh, well, my wife just took this new job. And she had been staying at home and split second, like without a thought, one of the other guys says, how can that happen? Who's managing the house. What's going on? Like the sky is falling, you know, that both of you guys have a job outside the house. And it was a little deflating, right? To hear somebody within leadership of the organization. I was a part of that was immediately like, oh, it's a, the perspective was it's either one or the other. You can't have both. And so I kind of went. No way, there's got to be ways to overcome this. 

And so when I went to business school, I remember listening to a panel and somebody asked that question and there was an executive. She was at Duke Energy at the time and she said, who your partner is, is super important because they are your team. They are your collaboration. Just like, I think everybody here has brought up an agreed upon today, like finding the village to fill the gaps. And she said, give yourself some grace. And the best way that I think about the grace is you have a lot of balls in the air. Some of them are glass and the other ones are rubber and you can drop the rubber ones, but making sure that you know, everybody is fed and is safe, that's the glass ball and I got to catch that ball and there's some glass walls with work and I got to catch that ball and there's some rubber balls. And so if you kind of take that perspective that it's a cycle, it's a journey. It's not, oh my gosh. Yes. I sent my kid to picture day and had no idea and, whatever it was, their hair wasn't combed. I didn't send the money. I didn't, you know what it was. Typically there's some grace out there and you've got to give yourself some too. 

29:10 Chris: 

And when Megan was talking and actually when she first started with this question, I actually wrote down, give yourself some grace that is on my notepad right here. And so, so, so glad that one of you get one of you went there because that is it. 

29:24 Natalie: 

We by nature, want to like solve everything and plan and probably have some type A in there. And so I'm like, okay, I can let this thing go.

29:35 Chris: 

That's right. , I will make it a pretty tight lightening round here only have three things. That's you all, but this is for our listeners where we're trying to give the listeners advice and guidance, things that they can look into and in any of these answers, we'll make sure we put those in the show notes as well for listeners so they can jump on that. So maybe we'll start at the top up with Lee and we'll go Lee, Megan, Natalie for our lightning round. Okay. So Lee, you can kick us off. What is your favorite leadership book? 

30:04 Lee: 

That's such a hard one, cause there's a million of them out there, but I am a huge Brené Brown fan. So I would say Daring to Lead, I think is my favorite book. 

30:16 Megan: 

I don't know it's my favorite book because I read books and then I forget about them. And then 30 minutes after this I'll be like, man, I really wish that I had mentioned that book, but I've been picking up and putting back down a book by Cialdini called Influence. And it's kind of about the tricks and trades of understanding human connection and what motivates people to be influenced versus not wanting to be influenced. And that's really what power the ability to influence. Right. And so check that book out. It's really neat. It talks about human psychology, so it's cool. 

30:52 Chris: 

Cool, cool. 

30:55 Natalie: Again, hard question and similar and I pick up things and put down things and read things and then go, oh, I should've said this one, but so on the kind of that psychology around there. I've always really liked some of the work from Malcolm Gladwell because it sort of breaks down the underpinnings I think what Megan was talking about of like influence and kind of this, the stuff in dare to lead. So, there's some things in Blink and Outliers for where we're at I've really enjoyed The Hard Thing About Hard Things that one has been good, particularly for kind of the stage of company that we've come through.

31:32 Chris: 

All right. How about Lee kicking back to you best leadership quote of all time? And I know Megan had a good one earlier. What would be one that resonates with you? 

31:41 Lee: 

That's a hard one to narrow down to you, but one, and I kind of have this one written down on my desk, but it's Anne Sweeney. She was a former president of Disney/ABC, and I really liked, she said, "Define success on your own terms. Achieve it by your own rules. And build a life that you're proud to live." And I think that kind of culminates kind of all of these key facets of you want to be a leader, but you want to try, it's again, this strive for balance, right? We're never going to get it, but just as close as you can get to having the best of all the different worlds that we're trying to have.

32:16 Megan: 

Sure. So I don't know how this is, but many people in industry, especially in tech have never heard of Sandra Lerner. Sandra Lerner was kind of the OG of women in tech. She's the founder of Cisco systems. She founded it in California with her husband back in the eighties and they later sold it in the early 1990s, but she's a world's foremost authority on Jane Austin. She bought a home that belonged to the English countryside that used to be Jane Austin's family. She restored it. She sold Cisco. If you've ever heard of the makeup company, Urban Decay, she started urban decay. Sandra Lerner is awesome. Sandra learners' famous quote is, "The first rule of any game is to know that you're in one." the second quote from Sandra Lerner is something along the lines of, and this is kind of controversial. And I don't know that I entirely agree with it, but she claims that the amount of time that a little girl spends wearing pink will be inversely comparable to her future income.

Kind of edgy to consider 

33:27 Lee: 

It is edgy, but I that's really thought provoking. That's interesting. 

33:31 Chris: 

It makes me feel good. None of my girls like pink.

33:43 Natalie: 

I love that one. And gosh, they were so really good. One. Yeah. And the pink one is super thought provoking because I say, I will say, my daughter is three right now. And I had this massive frustration because everything was pink. She, especially when she was a baby, like she can wear other colors.

So, um, yeah, I think there's this kind of always stuck is it's not what happens to us, but our response that, of what happens to us. And he goes on to say that hurts us, but I think that you can invert that and say, that can help you too. Right? It's, there's a lot of things that sometimes happen that are out of our control and it's how we choose to respond to that. Both whether it's, the fire of trying to balance, that's a terrible word, trying to, manage that work life intersection or whether it's what you're doing from a leadership perspective. And, Megan, you had said earlier, even just like being okay with sitting in something that's sticky and that's hard. And so what you choose, how you choose to approach those things and how you choose to react to. I think that's always really resonated with me. 

35:04 Chris: 

That's three phenomenal ones right there. Now the last, lightning round question Lee, back to you, most inspirational female leader.

35:12 Lee: 

I mean, this one's a sort of an obvious one, but it's when I think of that, I, Oprah Winfrey comes to mind. I mean, growing up in Apartheid, Mississippi you know, moving to Chicago, just not ever taking no for an answer, her whole career blazing a trail where there was absolutely none there. And then the way that she's done it, it's just not, it's not what she's achieved, but how she's achieved it and what she's doing with the success that she's had and how through collaboration she's elevated others. When you talk about, and when you were talking about influence, I mean the amount of people that she's been able to influence throughout society, I mean, I just think she's just to me, she's the standout, like I said, she's sort of the obvious choice, but I just, I had to say it had to have it be Oprah.

35:54 Megan: 

I always cheat at answering questions because I'm not just going to give you one. So I'd say Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Condoleezza Rice, Cleopatra, right. They all come to mind as being great original female leaders. I believe that at least three of them are type eight Enneagrams if you follow Enneagram leadership structure, but it's pretty neat. 

36:20 Natalie: 

So I'll take a little bit different approach if that's okay. One of the things that was always important to me, you know, when you asked this question and the first thing I thought of, you're like, oh who out there in the world, that's kind of famous as a leader, but then I thought of, you know, when you were in school and every year you're in your like first day of class and the teacher says who are your heroes or who, do you look up to? And that was part of your little profile that you filled out. And, you know, I would always put my mom or my grandma.

I think it's so important for us to look for great, inspiring people, even just within our own kind of sphere that are motivating and the reason I had put my grandmother is she had lost her husband when she had two kids in college and two kids still at home. It was the early seventies and they had a farm and every single person asked her, oh, you're going to sell the farm. Aren't you going to get remarried? Aren't you who's going to run the farm? And she said, I am. And she did. And she grew the farm. I mean, it is a successful family business now by uncle and several of my cousins farm and, just, she was up on technology. They put in if you know anything about farming, they put in irrigation systems which were kind of new in the seventies and, would tell stories to me about sitting in line with the green truck and selling grain. And sewing my aunts prom dress and the other guys got out of the truck and said what are you doing? And she's like, nothing, just so you know, to me, that was always somebody that was so inspiring throughout my entire life. And so I, I can't answer that question without saying her. 

I think someone that's probably a little bit less known is Cynthia Marshall, who's the CEO of the Dallas Mavericks. She's kind of, raised through the ranks and has been kind of a very outward facing role in a very male dominant organization and field previously. And I think that people like that are kind of more quiet, but I think really inspiring to watch and follow. 

38:40 Chris: 

Absolutely. Absolutely and I do love that you tied the family in there because on EECO Asks Why, we love that family, that aspect of it. So this has been phenomenal just to get the feedback from you, the wisdom, we call it EECO Asks Why, we really liked it to have that why towards the end and that give you a chance to put closing remarks in there as well. Well, maybe we can start back with Natalie, take us off. So maybe you can finish this up as well for the why part. So why is it important to have women in leadership positions in industry? 

39:11 Natalie: 

Yeah, so I had this saying I always say I love to drive better outcomes, right? No matter what I'm doing, kind of my passion is better outcomes for our organization, for our impact in the world, for people. And I think it is so key to have women in leadership to drive those better outcomes. You're going to drive better outcomes for individuals within the company. You're going to drive better outcomes for your culture. You're going to drive better outcomes, really for innovation and for the industry. And if there's one thing that I can say, that's the best way I can sum it up is I think women in leadership truly do transform and drive better outcomes all across the board.

40:01 Megan: 

Because we're human beings. The statement requires no qualification beyond that. We're 51% of the population. The fact that it would require any explanation is the problem entirely.

40:24 Lee: 

I think you, you hit it, right, Megan, where it's we're 51%. We should definitely have equal representation at the table. I would even take it beyond, I mean, it's women, but it's diversity across the board. Right? Everyone's got unique talents, perspectives. The more of that, that you bring to the table the richer your end product, your company, your corporate culture, which I think is really important too. And the more that we can extend that I think the better we all are for it. 

40:49 Chris: 

I agree. I think this, first panel, women in leadership, try trying this out for EECO Asks Why. I thought it was phenomenal. You ladies did a great job. Thank you for sharing so much insight and wisdom for the listeners out there. Check out the show notes. We'll have plenty of links to connect with Natalie, Megan, and Lee, to be able to go to their company, LinkedIn all the different ways to connect with them, follow them. Cause they definitely are leaders in industry and we really want to put them in front of everyone. So to each one of you, thank you so much for being on EECO Asks Why.