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Women’s History Month Resource Roundup

LinkedIn Live: Rise Up Check In with Emma B-F

Rachel:
Hello, Hello, Hello, LinkedIn Live world. Hello, Emma B-F. How are you today?

Emma:
Oh, I’m doing so well. I’m up in the mountains in New Hampshire. And today is the first day that I have seen the ground, the grass in probably four months.

Rachel:
Oh my gosh.

Emma: 
So the snow has melted. It’s a big deal. A big day.

Rachel: 
I’m really, really happy for you. So you get to put the snow shoes away a little bit.

Emma:
Temporarily, but then save them for Friday. Cause we’re gonna have a storm on Friday.

Rachel: 
Good. Because what I remember is, as soon as you put that winter gear away, it’s like the universe knows and then it’s like, oh, hey, we’re gonna get a nice big snowstorm for everyone. So not yet, but yeah, but I am so excited to talk with you. For those of you who do not know who we are, what we do, I’ll just give a little bit of a background. and then I’ll kick it over to Emma to give her background. My name is Rachel Murray. Pronouns are she/her. I’m the co-founder, co-CEO of She+ Geeks Out and we do a couple of things. We run events, support women in tech. We also offer corporate training in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Today we are talking with Emma. We: the royal we, are talking with Emma. I’m so excited because we’ve been partnering with her on a program. I’ll give a little bit of a history for those of you who don’t know us. We actually started out really running a ton of events in Boston, New York, San Francisco. Really the goal was to create a space where women in tech feel supported, have a network, have some laughs, have some education. Obviously since the pandemic, we were all virtual, those in-person events went away. We did offer virtual events, but let’s be real. Zoom fatigue is real. It’s still real. And so we wanted to be more intentional and thoughtful about what kind of support we could offer our community. I am fortunate enough to know this incredible human that is sharing this little cloud space with me, and I’m gonna let her tell her story, but basically we’ve been partnering with her over the past several months to create some small group, cohort opportunities for folks to just Rise Up in their careers. So I’m going to just pass over to Emma to share more of that story.

Emma:
Hi Rachel. Thank you. Thank you. I know it is so fun to be like we’re here in this virtual space and there are other people out there somewhere. But yeah, my journey’s kind of a similar intention to SGO, which is why we partner so well together. Because I, myself, was a woman in tech for many years, serving both in a consulting and technical role and then rising into leadership roles. And I remember that feeling of being in a leadership meeting with mostly men and feeling like I couldn’t be myself. I felt like I had to put on a power black blazer. That was like my go-to blazer. I put it on all the time. Because I believed that was the only way that I could be taken seriously or that was the only way I could fit in.

Rachel:
So no t-shirt? No like, cool graphic t-shirt underneath the black blazer.

Emma:
Isn’t it interesting how typically for men, that’s enough?

Rachel:
Totally.

Emma:
It’s enough to create that credibility and influence. And so for years I was trying to figure out what was my authentic way of leading. And I found it very hard in spaces that didn’t incentivize or motivate me to be myself. And I saw it happening in the tech space in general, you know, I would go to women in tech conferences, virtual spaces, and I kept hearing similar things. Women saying, I feel like I’m not being heard. I feel like I’m not being myself. I feel like I’m terrified to get it wrong- to say the wrong thing in the meeting. To share what I actually think. And so as I kept hearing these things, I thought, there’s gotta be a better way to do this. And it wasn’t until I had my first coach, which y’all is not a mentor. It’s not a sponsor, but a coach, someone I invested in myself to be there to see a higher potential for what I was capable of, and to give me the hard feedback.

Emma:
It wasn’t until I had my own coach that my actual authentic joy, goofiness, and love actually came out in the workplace. And so what I created from that space was this program called Rise Up to support women in tech who are ready to step into leadership and own their power, and I ran the first four cohorts last year during the pandemic, and had been in connection with you, Rachel, and being like this program’s working! They’re getting promotions. They’re showing up as themselves, they’re releasing people pleasing, they’re setting boundaries. And you were like, what if we partnered together? And kudos to you, because I didn’t even see that as a possibility, I didn’t even think that was possible. But now here we are, six months later and we have two cohorts running simultaneously because you and I thought we were gonna run one cohort. That’s right. Just 10 women.

Rachel: 
Test it out, just test it.

Emma:
And the demand, and the desire for it was so big. You and I were like, let’s do two simultaneously. So here we are more than halfway through the program, two concurrent cohorts, and we’re seeing the same things. It’s working.

Rachel:
Amazing. And I will say, it’s funny. Thank you so much for sharing your story because I’m reminded of when we met. It was actually at a women in tech conference, if I remember. Right? And we sat there and I was like, Emma, you got a thing. You got a thing, you gotta share that thing. So I just remember that from years ago. So I’m just so glad to see that you’re using that thing, which is so in alignment with how we roll. For those of you who are, whether you’re familiar with us or not, I like to remind people that one of our phrases is embrace your awkward. And what I love about that is because it is your authentic self. I mean, really like we’re all imperfect humans trying to walk our way through this crazy, crazy world that we live in. So yeah, I just wanted to bring that up as a little reminder. So here we are midway through the program, maybe even a little bit more than midway. So I would just love to hear how it’s going.

Emma:
Yeah, it’s a 10 week program. So we just wrapped up week six. They’re on their little bye week right now. And I mean, the transformation is palpable. From the women that stepped into the beginning of the program, they’re not the same women that are showing up right now. And it shows up because in the beginning part of the program, we focus on yourself. You know, how do I think about myself as a leader? What are my values? What’s my vision for my life? And what are those fears that hold myself back? And then we move into one-to-one relationships, cuz I don’t throw people into public speaking or hard conversations until you are grounded and you know who you are.

Rachel: 
Makes sense. Logical.

Emma:
Logical, and also not how most leadership development programs are structured.

Rachel: 
Fascinating.

Emma: 
Yeah. And so, when you asked how it’s going, the image that comes to my mind is we have weekly group coaching calls. They’re 75 minutes and they’re super interactive. And every time when we start the call, I’ll ask people like, gimme a thumbs up, thumbs here, thumbs down, be like, how’s your week. How are you feeling today? Like you said, Rachel, like we’re in crazy times and we’re not here to force positivity down. So people come in there like, eeeesh. And, no fail, at the end of every call, 75 minutes later. I’m like, how was that activity for you? How are you feeling? And it’s like,

Rachel:
Someone needs to make that a giphy. First of all, I love that.

Emma: 
I love that.

Emma:
So, you know, it’s that palpable transformation, which is why I do this work and why this is a group coaching program. It’s so that we can have that space for women in tech to feel like I belong. Like I’m okay. There is nothing wrong with me. And those are the lessons that are really starting to bubble up and it’s showing up in the way that these women are coming into their office, the way they’re talking with their families, the way they make decisions about themselves. So we’re going from like this to just like.

Rachel: 
Also, just like, shouts to Zoe who is a corporate sponsor for a couple of the folks in the Rise Up program. Thank you. 10 out of 10, would recommend. And I will share with you also, I have also been getting some wonderful feedback too, which has just been delightful. Nothing even like constructive feedback. I haven’t had that, you know? So it’s just kudos to you. There’s something really magical in that. For what it’s worth, as someone who sort of sits in the manager’s seat, has in the past, and I think about that we hire, and sometimes the hiring doesn’t work out. Lord knows I have had jobs where it hasn’t worked out and I’ve doubted myself. I look back on that and I can’t help but think, and also in personal relationships too, like you mentioned, I can’t help but think, it’s not a right fit. It’s not that there is something fundamentally wrong with a person who is going through it. So I’m so glad that they’re seeing that is what it is. It’s not them. There are other factors that are beyond or that you’re drawing out. So it’s just really cool. I’m so glad. I want to hear some of the lessons that people have been learning.

Emma:
Well, actually, I’ll build on what you just talked about right there, because last week we had a whole module on navigating conflict, how to navigate conflict effectively,

Rachel:
Big one.

Emma:
By the way, it’s not a formulaic thing. So if any of y’all are like, oh, I want the formula or the equation to have this, that’s not what we do. And so I think about this one woman who is a manager of a team and she got through the end of the exercise last week and shared key takeaways. And she said, what I’m realizing is that it’s important for me to not compare my teammates to each other, to not compare my direct reports to each other, but to give them specific feedback that is neutral and objective in service to where they can go next.

Rachel:
Yes.

Emma:
Now the beautiful way about how we do this work is that that is also then feedback for herself to say, I am not going to compare myself to other people, because the way that she was able to get to that lesson of let me not have my direct reports compete with each other, she has to first be okay with not competing or comparing herself.

Rachel:
Right on. Huge.

Emma: 
I mean, huge. That in and of itself can literally transform the way you live your life.

Rachel:
Absolutely. Absolutely. I think about that a lot. We’ve talked about this before. I like to tell people I used to be a terrible manager because I used to live by the golden rule and that was the thing for me. I had this expectation where I expect everyone to be like me. I was put in this role to be an inspiration to others. No, that’s not why I was put in the role. I was put in the role to manage and coach people and to bring out their best selves in service of them and the team and the company. I did not know that for many, many years. I learned the platinum rule, which is just treat people how they want to be treated. It’s just a revelation I think.

Rachel: 
I wanna talk about this, because when we first started talking about doing this program, the SGO community is primarily mid-stage career folks. And we talked about maybe having a cohort that was specifically for managers to sort of dive into some of that and maybe some individual contributors as another cohort, as we’re like, Ooh, we can do two cohorts, we can split them up! But I would love to hear about how the different cohorts have been going. Just what they look like, what’s their makeup. Who makes up a great participant in these cohorts and we’ll go from there.

Emma:
Yeah, that sounds good. Well, and it’s interesting because I think at the beginning, you and I, at least I thought that there would be differences and I’ll be honest, I’m kind of surprised at how few differences there are. Because what I’ve heard, especially from where you start off. Like how you could know this program is for you, if you’re asking some of these questions, and this is what the current participants asked: how do I more confidently speak up in meetings? How do I create more influence in the workplace? How do I feel more comfortable being in executive leadership meetings? How do I- I mean, this isn’t the question, but this is what’s right below it- how do I not freak out every time I feel like I have something to say in a large group, and I don’t know how to say it? That self-awareness isn’t often there at the beginning, but as the coach, I’m like, that’s what’s underneath. Which is underneath that is, do I trust myself? Do I believe I’m valuable? Do I believe what I have to say is worthy?

Emma: 
And so that’s where people are starting off. And that’s true for individual contributors, for managers, for senior managers, and even directors. And so I think that when you talk about what are the similarities, these women are saying, I want to feel confident and I want to do it in a way that feels like me, which means it doesn’t necessitate a power black blazer. It doesn’t necessitate mirroring an aggressive leadership style that we often see as the model in tech. When I ask the women in the program, what do you think of when I say a leader in tech? They say an old white man. Even in tech, even when we talk about like the young tech bros, like that’s still not my experience of what holds women in tech back in the workplace.

Rachel:
Yeah.

Emma: 
So we’re looking just for that next level of confidence, that commitment to authenticity, and also wanting to practice it in a safe space with other women, other people who are at that same level.

Rachel:
I love it so much. I’ve been sadly watching a lot of, well, I had to put Succession away. Succession was like breaking my brain, but then I’ve switched over to Billions. And as you were saying this, I was thinking not only-

Emma:
I haven’t watched it.

Rachel:
It’s all basically exactly what you’re saying. I mean, it’s super high powered. So Succession is about, you know, sort of the Rupert Murdoch family conglomerate. Family members eating each other, you know, business wise. And then Billions is more about this hedge fund company and a lot of male energy on all the sides. And then I was trying to think about shows that we watch, where there are female leaders too. And for some reason, Scandal was like the first thing that popped into my head with Kerry Washington. And how she’s just also in those power suits. And then I was like, what would a show look like if it were just like us running a company, for example. Like all this, like nice energy. Like, would anyone actually watch it? Probably not, because we’d just be nice to each other. We’d be all supportive. And would anyone wanna watch that?

Emma: 
That’s wild. Cause I was just at a retreat this past weekend with other women entrepreneurs and we watched this movie called The Long Shot. Have you seen or heard of it?

Rachel:
No. Tell me.

Emma: 
It’s with Seth Rogan and I think Charlize Theron, and Charlize Theron is running for president. And at first she presents very masculine. Like what you’re talking about with Kerry Washington and then the plot line just wooshes it under. And the second the plot line changed, I knew it was directed and written by women.

Rachel:
Wow.

Emma: 
She connects to her vulnerability, her authenticity, her truth, having hard conversations to live in alignment with her values.

Rachel:
Wow.

Emma:
With a partner who is encouraging her to do that and is like drawing that out in her. And because I can always bring it back to a point.

Rachel:
Yeah. I know I’m seeing it. It’s amazing.

Emma:
In this cohort, the value of it being a group coaching program is that, I mean, you see it happen. I wish you all could just be flies on the wall to see the cohort giving each other feedback. I mean, they draw it out of each other, and that’s another common thread for Rise Up women. They’re not coming in, expecting me to be like the keeper, the Wizard of Oz essentially. I am your coach to give you that feedback and to call you forward and to give you the tools, give you the freaking tools and then empower you to do it your own way. And these women, they’re incredible. The breakthroughs that they’re creating in each other are just as powerful as the content.

Rachel:
You know, I’m so glad that you mentioned that because it’s funny. I remember, for me, the moment I was like, I have to work with Emma on this, to get it in front of the SGO community. I attended one of your-

Emma: 
A class or something.

Rachel:
Yeah, exactly, it was one of those. And there was a moment where you had everyone sharing who wanted to share, which was cool. But then the most amazing thing was when you were like, okay, everyone put one word in the chat of how that made you feel. And it was just this outpouring of just love and support. I’m literally welling up just thinking about it because it’s such a beautiful, powerful moment. I was putting myself in that person’s shoes who actually got that feedback and how emotional that must have been to receive it because we typically don’t receive that kind of feedback. So it’s just so incredibly important. And I wish everyone in the universe could just kind of get that. And I feel like then we’d probably have world peace and everything would be fine.

Emma: 
Yes. What would it look like if we stopped criticizing each other with the intention of tearing someone down?

Rachel: 
Oh my gosh.

Emma:
Remember, I mean the way this work works is, it’s a reflection of how I think about myself and how you think about yourself. If you’re noticing that the only type of feedback you can offer somebody is criticism or what’s not working or here’s how you messed up or effed up, sit back and ask- am I doing that to myself? The answer is probably yes. So the question is, I mean, that’s the other thing we start with every call. What are you celebrating this week? I gotta tell you, Rach, this happens with every cohort. When I ask that question at first, people are like, this is what their faces tell me. Why are we wasting our time celebrating? Let’s get to it. Let’s go, let’s go. And then as the program goes on, it’s like, oh, I’m celebrating this. Oh, I’m celebrating that. And I keep in touch with women who once they complete the program, one of them said, I wish you just had a program where we could come and celebrate each other once a week. It’s a lesson. Celebrating myself and celebrating and acknowledging my team and my cohort is feedback. It is a way to give feedback. It’s not just, here’s where you messed up and dropped the ball.

Rachel:
Absolutely. And I just wanna shout to Yvette Johnson Powell also, who has been chatting some wonderful feedback as well. Thank you so much. I love this conversation. Allow your staff team to be individuals and coach them accordingly. Yes. And yeah, the image of tech is sadly correct. That is so true. And the older tech. Yeah, I think a lot about ageism, as I am aging. My millennial gray- sorry. My pandemic gray is what I call it. I don’t know why I said millennial gray. But thank you for that feedback. That is really helpful. We’ve already talked about a lot of highlights, but is there anything else that you would want to share that’s been a highlight? I know that in doing two cohorts simultaneously, has there been anything unique about that?

Emma: 
I think it’s just important to recognize how quickly this program allows you to take action towards what you actually want. Rachel, you saw this feedback because we have a slack community for the cohort, you know, within the first two weeks of the program, there was one woman who so clearly saw how her workplace was so toxic, like beyond repair kind of thing. And within two weeks of the program, she had redone her resume, gotten clarity on what her wanted her next role to be, which is a total sector pivot. And she was already starting to reach out to her network to schedule interviews.

Rachel:
Wow. Wow. So fast,

Emma: 
It’s so fast. And you know, I think there’s a mindset out there that if I wanna make a pivot, I have to wait until I know. Even deciding to step into a program like this, I’ll wait until things die down at work or I’ll wait until my kids are taken care of. The lesson here is to choose yourself first. Choose yourself first, say yes to yourself first and see how your entire reality starts to change.

Rachel:
I love that. I love that. Ugh. Okay. Great question coming your way. Are you ready?

Emma: 
I’m ready.

Rachel: 
Have there been any big lessons for you in particular with this cohort?

Emma: 
If we’re talking about how quickly the evolution happens for participants, I mean, I’m like, whoa! The changes in my life have happened so fast. I’m not the same person I was on Friday. And one thing I know to be true about this program as a thank you from the SGO community is the power of numbers.

Emma: 
Because before we partnered together, this was even a smaller, more intimate program. And the expansion of the size of the program is actually resulting in the expansion of energy and the expansion of community and the expansion of results. And, you know, I wouldn’t have said, I was like playing it small with how powerful this training is. And so the impact that I now see possible for the tech sector, more broadly, to serve more women. I mean, that’s the piece here is the maximizing impact has just blown my mind and that wouldn’t have been possible without this partnership and without your vision to see this happen and the way we’re talking about it too. How else can we bring this content and serve more people and empower more women to step into leadership and own their voice?

Rachel:
Ah, could you imagine? I’m like tear, tear. How?

Emma:
It feels so real. Like this is not fluff. People are like, I’m why are you so happy all the time? Like if you were in these Zoom rooms! I’m in these zoom rooms twice a week. There is hope here and it’s not fleeting hope. It’s a real, tangible transformation, that if we master it on ourselves, then there’s no other choice, but for it to work out in the broader world.

Rachel: 
Wow. I Iove that you chose the word hope because I think that right now it’s just hard for everyone. So I just think that hearing that, and feeling that, it’s just really, really important. Thank you. I’m so excited.

Rachel: 
A few more questions. Yeah. So what’s up ahead for the next few weeks? Oh my gosh. And then beyond.

Emma: 
And beyond! Besides the revolution?

Rachel:
Yes. Yes.

Emma: 
Well, so what’s up next, especially for these two cohorts is we’ve moved through the inner work. We’ve just completed the one-to-one relationships. And now we get to bring it into the public speaking portion, which is so yummy for me cause I’m a public speaker. That’s actually how I met your husband, who’s amazing. Like he tapped me for that public speaking and it’s just gone beyond. When I talk with women who know they have this inner know that like I can do more, I can create more impact. It’s the public speaking part where we bring it all together. And so they demystify executive presence and create an executive presence that they get to claim for themselves, learn how to tell powerful stories. And then actually create a physical energy on screen that inspires and persuades and really creates the action that we want.

Rachel:
How many introverts do you have in your cohort?

Emma:
90%.

Rachel: 
I was gonna say, well, we’ve talked about this. I call myself a closeted introvert, cause anyone who knows me is like, why would you ever say that you’re an introvert, but it is that fear, that performance, that not being perfect when you say the words in front of certain folks. That fear gets in the way of being who you are. And that’s, what’s so cool about this last part of the program. So I’m excited for you and for the folks that are in the space. And then beyond, beyond this cohort, I

Emma: 
I see beyond what you see! We’re planning to launch another cohort starting in September. So there’s an opportunity to join the wait list. I mean the way that these seats went so fast in the SGO community. Again, if you’re ready to actually say yes to yourself and choose yourself first, hop on that wait list. Because even with the expansion we’re looking to create, like this is hot and the desire is high. And so, you know, you can jump in there and it can only get better. That’s the best part is every cohort, the content up levels, the questions up level, the community up levels, and they pay it forward through their feedback, through their growth, through their experiences. So is there anything else beyond what I see? Anything beyond what you see?

Rachel:
No, I think that’s great. And I’m glad that you mentioned the ripple effect too. I think it’s huge and you know, someday pipe dream out there, put it out in the universe is in person retreats. An opportunity for us to gather in person, I am hopeful that we can do that. We don’t have a date. We don’t have a location. We do have a mindset.

Emma: 
We have the vision.

Rachel:
We have the vision. We have the secret. No I got very woo in the last five or 10 minutes of this discussion.

Emma: 
I wonder why!

Rachel: 
It’s cause of you, you did this to me. I learned it from watching you. But you’re like a nice wooo person. Sometimes, I tend toward more of the geek side than the woo side myself.

Emma:
You can Geek out on woo. That’s all I’m saying.

Rachel: 
Ah, you know, it’s complicated. It’s complicated. You’re right though. It’s true. Final question. What are you geeking out about these days? That’s not about leadership or Rise Up. Just fun, whatever.

Emma: 
It’s actually very woo. Can we go here actually? It’s not even, but it is. Have you ever heard of Kate Northrop?

Rachel: 
Yes.

Emma: 
Okay. Kate Northrop’s like an author, activist, incredible human. She wrote this book called Do Less. She says a revolutionary time management approach for women. And it talks about how you can, instead of structuring time management through the traditional masculine ways, you do it in alignment with your feminine cycles.

Rachel:
Woo.

Emma:
And it follows the lunar cycle and your menstrual cycle. And it gives you a blueprint for when to do certain work based on the lunar phase. And I have tried it and it fricking works. It’s amazing.

Rachel:
That’s so interesting,

Emma: 
I have felt less tired. I’ve been more productive. And at the end of the day, I’m putting less pressure on myself, not pressure, you know, feel like that’s the journey of the entrepreneur and the high-achieving woman, which I still am, you know? But so much less pressure on myself to get it all done.

Rachel: 
Yes. Oh, good.

Emma: 
Do Less by Kate Northrop. I’m reading it for the second time. It’s so good.

Rachel:
You know, the only way to truly crush white supremacy and the patriarchy is to honor the time that we have and create boundaries. As we can do it, right. We’re gonna fight the system somehow.

Emma: 
I love that.

Rachel:
Well thank you. Those were all of my questions for you. My friend. I could not be happier and more excited and proud to partner with you. And I’m just so excited for the future. Just creating a little bit more brightness out of the dark, just creating a little bit more bright spaces. So that is what we are doing. So thank you so much.

Emma: 
Thank you.

Rachel: 
Talk soon. Bye. Bye. Everybody on LinkedIn Live.