The Power of Reinvention: Filling the “Mom-Gap”
About This Episode
Reinventing your career path is no easy feat. It requires time, dedication and skill development. But with the right support from your organization, businesses can help motivate their employees to meet their career goals and aspirations, all while upskilling the workforce with diverse perspectives and talent. Now more than ever, the opportunity is there for companies to reinvent the hiring process to include a wide array of individuals, including stay-at-home moms.
We explore this topic deeper in this episode of The Edge with Nesha Pai, an award-winning author, a popular speaker, a determined mentor, and a passionate advocate for small businesses and stay-at-home moms.Together, Nesha and host Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek chat about the career and financial effects of familial obligations on women and how to reinvent their careers and the workforce with the inclusion of unique and diverse talent.
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Michelle BB 00:00:07 The views expressed by guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Skillsoft. Welcome to The Edge, the Skillsoft podcast, where you'll hear stories about how transformative learning can help organizations and their people grow together. I am your host, Michelle BB. My pronouns are she her and hers. And now in season three, The Edge has delivered insightful conversations with inspiring speakers on topics, ranging from skilling for the future to the human revolution, persuasive storytelling to digital transformation. And we have produced several episodes that focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, examining the topic through multiple lenses, but a common thread in all of those episodes was the importance of empathy, active allyship, and leading with emotional intelligence. Now emotional intelligence is a power skill and it helps leaders identify and navigate their own emotions. It helps them become more self-aware so they can effectively lead with a sense of purpose, authenticity, openness, and trust.
Michelle BB 00:01:19 And so I'm excited to have a special guest join me to speak on this very topic. Simone Sloane is the founder of Your Choice Coach, helping business professionals find their voice step into their power and have the confidence to execute their greatness. An entrepreneur herself, Simone understands all of the challenges that come from running a business. She received her MBA and then honed her business skills, working in the pharmaceutical biotech and healthcare world. She's managed cross-functional teams and held roles in marketing communications, medical affairs, sales, and global business strategy. Simone's mantra is voice power confidence as an emotional intelligence executive coach. She changes the way leaders and their businesses engage their employees and clients. She emphasizes the human element with a focus on diversity and inclusion. Simone is a keynote speaker. She's been featured as a thought leader in articles for Huffington Post, Forbes and Pharmacy Times.
Michelle BB 00:02:27 She's also an active member of the Tri-state Diversity Council and advocate for women, LGBTQIA, BIPOC, people with disabilities and cross generations. And so I am really thrilled to have Simone with us today. Simone, welcome. Thank you for joining me on The Edge.
Simone 00:02:46 Very excited to be here. Thank you for having me
Michelle BB 0:02:49 And I am looking forward to our conversation. I do want to start off, you know, we started The Edge back in 2020. I think when we all think about that year, it really was a perfect storm of disruption. We faced a global health crisis in COVID 19 economic uncertainty at the time for businesses and for individuals and an important social justice movement in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. And in the weeks that followed his murder, there were thousands of protests in the United States and around the world that sparked a global conversation and call to action on the pervasive issues of racial discrimination of bias and of inequity and many organizations, even those that felt like they had a strong diversity equity and inclusion strategy or program.
Michelle BB 00:03:41 I think they really struggled with how to design and enable systemic change, how to support their leaders, particularly when those leaders were being asked questions that they couldn't answer something that employee populations really needed to hear. And then coming out of that designing programs and creating cultures of equity and inclusion both within and outside of their organizations. As I think about 2020, so much going on so much that companies had to deal with in response to their employees, it comes down to building trust, or perhaps at the time, maybe there was a lack of trust that we all sort of felt at the time. And so I'd love for you to share a little bit of your thinking about that time and this idea, this notion of having to build or rebuild trust.
Simone 00:04:39 I think it was very tumultuous. I think that's the word that comes to mind when you think about 2020. And there was a level of a lot of disruption, right? As we all experienced a lot of revelations and revealing of what was going on because pre- Covid, I would say we were running high speed, at least in the us. I remember just in terms of the volumes of things that we were doing, and it really took us to an opportunity to pause and we all paused globally, which was kind of a unique thing. And it also in that pause caused an opportunity for us to reflect and reflect on a lot of different systems, practices, behaviors. And I think the culmination of the events that led up to George Floyd, I think that really just amplified because we all watched for like 10 minutes what happened and had to kind of think about our humanity in the same vein, right? When you think about COVID and healthcare vaccinations, healthcare systems, you think about just in terms of relationships and what did that really mean? Think about mental health and not even being discussed at the level it's being done today and just really reframing how we work, because we were talking about companies that thought, oh, no, we had to have everybody in their chairs and we had to see them. And now coming out of that, right, companies are like, oh, we're distributed and we're still productive and people are happy. So I think there are a lot of different things that are led up to how do we trust, right. But ourselves internally, but how do we trust also externally? And I think that was something that we had to grapple with in terms of messaging, communications, character of who's saying what, and then also it had a lot of things that we were probably holding onto that we'd even realize from an emotional standpoint, that also kind of bubbled up to the surface too, and revealed a lot of instability, right? Because in terms of how we respond to a change and it was being done to us, it's not like we voluntarily said, Hey, we are gonna do this. Right. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, but that's a whole other realm of, of emotions too. And underlining that is that level of, do I trust this change? Do I trust who's telling me what's to do, do I want to do what's right for humanity?
Michelle BB 00:07:07 We heard similar things from the organizations with which we work from their employees and also from our employees. And it felt like in that moment of reflection companies took a look at their own policies and recognized perhaps in some case, Simone, that they weren't good enough, that they weren't deep enough and that we needed to show up differently. We developed a Leader Camp at the time that was designed to encourage this kind of dialogue because people were asking for it and look, the response was phenomenal. I mean, if you think about the summer of 2020, we had 12,000 people from 36 countries that registered to attend this Leader Camp on how to affect change within your company, how to have the conversations around what had just happened and what was going on in the world. And since then, I know so many companies have been evolving their own programs and policies. And given the focus of your work, I would just really love to hear your perspective on what's happened since then, has that work really evolved? Are we experiencing meaningful change?
Simone 00:08:25 Absolutely. I think what we saw were leaders who did not know what to do here, we are being confronted with something that we know it's taking place, but now it's upfront and personal. And now we have to put mirrors in front of ourselves to see what we are really doing. There were a lot of statements that were being made, right? A lot of people came out on doing this program, supporting this and X, Y, and Zs. And when I look back at those statements to some of those companies of what they made, or some pledges that they signed, what are they doing now? You made this great statement, but what does that really mean to your organization? The people within your companies and even the communities in which you're serving it's up and down, meaning that there's no consistency, either of those who said something kind of just let it, they said it and that's it.
Simone 00:09:12 But then those who kind of mobilized and said something and, but are doing things, they either dug deeper because you mentioned earlier, yes, you have a strategy, but is it, I wouldn't say, is it enough? But is it adequate? And is it serving mm-hmm, <affirmative> the constituents that it should be serving. And the first space you wanna look at is your overall company and your people are they thriving. I've seen companies where they post its mental health awareness month and they're posting all these things about why we should care and what we should be doing. But then when I looked at those policies and practices of the employees, they weren't even getting that benefit themselves. And here you were disgruntled because here the company's posting all these wonderful things about mental health and why we should be supporting it. But they in fact were not doing it. You have to look at every step at every level and stage to see what we are actually saying. Are we truly aligned in our behaviors, our actions, our communications, because that matters that everybody now is looking outside, inside donors, depending on if you're a nonprofit, if you are, even if you're within an RFP, they're asking you these questions, what are you doing? And it's not just about having a DEI statement. They're looking at really more tactical things. That's impacting communities and within the organizations, the people.
Michelle BB 00:10:35 I appreciate that sentiment because I do believe that there's a big disconnect between what we say and what we do. And I recently saw a survey of Human Resource, as well as Chief Diversity Officers that was eye opening, 81% of participants reported that they believe that DEI initiatives are beneficial to their organizations. Yet only 34% of them said we have enough resources to support these critical initiatives. You brought up mental health. There are a lot of different factors and aspects that I think we have to start looking at that go beyond perhaps what initial or early DE&I efforts were about, because we've got a situation in which we've just come out of. And, and I I'll, I say we come out of it, although COVID, I think is with us for good, but we've come out of what I'd call the COVID crisis, right?
Michelle BB 00:11:34 That immediate crisis. I think we've all been so affected in ways that we probably don't even realize. And so now we've gotta bridge this gap coming out of COVID crisis and start to think about what is DEI now, what are the things that we need to do to help our people that go beyond just the statements and the commitments and the social tiles, and start to think about things around mental health and inclusion. Now we've gotta really recognize this notion of digital equity because people don't work in an office as much anymore. And I had someone on my team say to me, Simone, you know, I don't love the term remote Michelle. And I'm like, why don't you like that? And she said, because it makes me feel less than, it makes me feel like everybody else who's there is present and I'm remote. So I'm not as important. She said, I really prefer this idea of a distributed workforce because it means that we're all equal where we work doesn't really matter. And that was such a light bulb moment for me, Simone. Absolutely.
Simone 00:12:40 Thanks for sharing that too. We use distributed also. And, and then we were talking about hybrid or, and how people are actually working. So I love that. Going back to the reference point of what diversity equity inclusion is. And I think that's the first step is kind of defining it. Mm-hmm <affirmative> most folks think it's a black and white issue and it's not, there's so many different layers and levels to diversity that they don't even think about. I was having a conversation with a colleague the other day, and they had a global team. Part of it was in the US part were outside of the US, and I said, oh, it's an inclusion issue. He's like, no, that's not what we're talking about. I said, okay. So I said, tell me more. Then he unpacked, okay. We are talking about different time zones, different cultures, different way people are working.
Simone 00:13:21 I said, oh, that is an inclusion issue that we're kind of working through. And he's like, oh, I never think about it that way. Right. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. So I think that's the first thing is really defining what does this really mean to your organization and understanding the various facets and intersection that exist, um, within this terminology, enabling us ourselves to understand where are the inequities who is actually being impacted by these inequities, right? And then culminating in terms of some strategies to co-create a new way of being and doing. And if we don't understand what the definitions are, we can't really understand where the problems are, and we're not really asking the questions to help address and get to those root causes.
Michelle BB 00:14:01 That is so important. This notion of DEI operating on so many levels and having so many layers. And the notion that in inclusion is far more encompassing than what we might have thought around gender ethnicity. It's so critical. And, and in the example that you gave, it seems to me that we're on this journey and, you know, we've gotta bring people along with us as I think these things evolve, right. What DEI was before is very different than the way that we're talking about it now. And, you know, we talk about the, I being so important because I think a lot of people tend to, or have focused on the D and on even the E right. And those are important. And I don't wanna say they aren't, but, but you gotta get the I right to, and I is about feeling that sense of belonging. So I feel like we're on a journey and maybe you can talk a little bit about what it means to be on a DE&I journey, you know, is this a concept that organizations just really need to understand that it's constantly evolving and they have to consistently and constantly evaluate and evolve and it just doesn't stop.
Simone 00:15:25 Absolutely. There's no destination that we arrive and go, okay, we're here. <laugh> <laugh> and it's not a one and undo, and it's not about trying to boil oceans either, right? Because, you know, yes, you people get all this notion that we have to do this and this and this and this and this. And I'm glad you brought up the whole idea also, just in terms of understanding that diversity equity inclusion, and they all are pillars to that, on that journey. And we all have to understand that various ways in which they relate to us or not. Right. Because there are some folks who still are not on that boat, on the bus and truly just understanding it is a destination. We are human beings, very dynamic, and this is constantly constantly evolving and we have to be learning and open to learning at all of these different stages.
Simone 00:16:13 Yes. Because things pivot so quickly and change. For example, you looking at pronouns, we start, we are binary. Now we have so many, I can't even count on one on two hands, right. In terms of how ways we can identify our genders. And there's some folks that still are, you know, are hesitant to even broach that, or don't even wanna talk about anything beyond binary genders think about too. And just in terms of land acknowledgements that exist. Right. And in, I think, believe in Canada, they put a legislation that to acknowledge the land of the indigenous folks and what we currently have inhabit. And so in working with companies that work with the land, right. They're on it, changing it, evolving it, working in the communities, getting them to kind of start as part of their DEI work and land acknowledgement before they even start the work on how they engage other folks that's also evolving.
Simone 00:17:03 Right. And getting people's mindsets around. Oh yeah. We have to acknowledge that we have the privilege to work on this land because it was inhabited by others who came before us and the legislations that constantly come out. Right. And you know, especially what's coming out within Florida with the saying no to gay and, and, and no woke act. These are things that we have to be present about because they're folks that may not fully understand what these implications are and just jumping on the bandwagon because it sounds, you know, okay. To do. But really this is where the work begins in terms of really unpacking what is happening today and why are these issues being raised and why are there protests against this? I was listening to national geographics earlier this week and they were talking about climate change sustainability. And it was interesting what this particular conservationist was staying.
Simone 00:17:55 She said, as a generation, we have to own the previous behaviors and actions of previous generations, right. Because it's now a, in our steward and we have to do something about it. And I thought about DEI in the same vein. Right. And how many of us can say that it's now in our hands and it's where we are and how we have these stewards and be intentional in terms of our actions who's involved. Who's not involved? How do we get people along in this process? Because yes, you may not have been part of that previous generation, but you're now owning it. It becomes part of you. And so there's this ownership that we all can take on to move it forward in a positive way.
Michelle BB 00:18:36 Oh my gosh. I love that. I've always talked about this idea of being a shepherd or steward. My last job, I was the CMO of IBM Watson Watson is -- this like really big, iconic brand. And so it was a privilege for me to be the shepherd and the steward, but I only had it for a point in time, right. It was my job to evolve that brand and to take it forward. But I knew I'd be passing it along to somebody else and I wanted to leave it in a better place than when I got it right. That's our job. We have to show up. And we've been handed this in a lot of cases, this, this challenge, whether it is climate, whether it is DEI and it's hours now to own and make it better than when we started showing up, ties into this notion of intentional allyship.
Michelle BB 00:19:30 We do a course on allyship, which I think is really important. And we have this ill of checklist, awareness, advocacy, and action, and awareness is seeking opportunities to recognize in course, correct. Right. To be aware, advocacy, using power and influence on behalf of people who need it. Right. Who need us to show up and then action. And it's the difference, you know, as we talked about before between saying something right, which can be, and often is performative and taking real meaningful action. And it seems to me like this, isn't something that you can just phone in. You cannot just put something up on LinkedIn, Facebook, but you actually have to show up and show up every single day and recognize that in this moment, this is our time to be the stewards and the shepherds of this really important mission.
Simone 00:20:24 Yeah. As you're talking about the allyship piece and showing up, it's also, how do we evoke that empathy piece to an understanding? So that way, if you are the only in that room and something goes sideways, you know that there are other folks in the room who will speak up and support, right. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and not be on the sidelines. And I think that becomes very important. And when I say empathy, you have the cognitive way of understanding emotional way that you invoke those feelings. But then also the compassionate way that actually stimulates some sort of action to create some form of change. And so these are things when you say show up, absolutely that you have in terms of how we lead in our communications, our behaviors, our actions, how we collaborate with the fellow human beings on that team. And it's not just this big thing that, oh, okay, we're gonna do this now.
Simone 00:21:18 And we have a, a banner around it. Absolutely not. It happens in these day to day moments. I call 'em matter of fact moments, right? Because we end up getting so busy, we're multitasking, we're doing so many different things. And then something gets said, or if something is done and they don't even realize the intentions or even the impact that it might have had on that individual. Those are those little matter of fact moments where it means so much more and how we need to slow down as we show up to lead and lead effectively in this space.
Michelle BB 00:21:49 I love what you said about these sort of matter of fact moments. And I think in those moments, we need to go back to something you said earlier, we need to check in on our humanity. Like this is a time for us to give ourselves, but also give others grace. And I don't think that we do that enough. And to me, part of what we, we have to do, I think in the organizations, in which we work is make that a part of ingrained in and the foundation of our culture. Because if it's not just part of what we do naturally, if it's not inherent in the way that we operate, it's not gonna happen. Right. And if we don't feel confident or comfortable being able to say, you know what, we're gonna take a time out because this is not, this does not live up to the values that we believe in. We are not treating each other the way that we need to. And so we need to take a pause here and maybe revisit this conversation, or maybe some of us need to get on another conversation and have a, a discussion about the way in which we need to show up. And I think it's so important to put that to me, that comes back to culture. I'd love your thoughts on that.
Simone 00:23:04 It goes back to the trust that pillar and foundational pieces of teams and how do we create effective, highly effective teams trust. And there's so many different pillars of this trust that comes forth. It could be from consistency to humility, to how we contribute to empathy. But when I ask folks, when I tell, 'em take a look at these seven pillars from choose -- the ones that resonate with you, the top three come in are relationships degree to which we have, or don't have mm-hmm <affirmative> consistency, behaviors, actions, right? Just how we make decisions and transparency. And if those three things do not exist, that's where you get the breakdown of trust, right? So when you'd say, oh, we, something goes sideways in a, in a room and no one says anything. Absolutely. Because they don't trust right. The space in which they operate. Right. We've not created that space that says, if I say something, I won't get something negatively happening to me later on. That's the first place that we have unpacked a lot of. And it's a lot of work to do to allow us to then lean into that discomfort or even lean into positive conflict is what I call it.
Michelle BB 00:24:10 Love that trust is really the foundation upon which everything else is built the way in which we interact and engage with others the way in which we exhibit those behaviors to your point consistently over time. And just the transparency, willingness to be open and respectful as well. If we're gonna affect change, if we're going to shift culture, if we're going to instill more trust in our organizations and improve our policies, how do we determine whether or not we are succeeding? How do we measure our progress? Because accountability is so important. And so maybe you can talk a little bit about, you know, I hate to say metrics and measurement, but I feel like it's, it's important, right? You can't tackle a challenge without having some kind of desired outcome and measurement associated.
Simone 00:25:09 Absolutely. Before we even get to the metrics piece, you have to look at and see, where are the breakdowns within the culture what's working and what's not working to then identify, how do we leverage our strengths to then improve upon the areas that we need to, to work on. As part of that, for example, most folks default into hiring let's hire, right? That's the first thing that goes in terms of that talent management process and diversity equity inclusion that also things think through too, in terms of how we measure trust. Well, let's take a look, have you done surveys, right? Employee engagement, surveys, DEI surveys, and then pulsed it to see given where the areas that we may be low on that scale start working towards to build up. But what happens is that you can, it's a balance between developing and maintaining because what happens is we over index on the areas that where we are we're low and we wanna improve upon and then forget about our strengths to leverage.
Simone 00:26:04 So it's a really fine balance in terms of really doubling down. But then also maintaining on that scale, it also comes from the leadership teams, communicating what's important. Why is this important and how they are going to show up and the expectations of everyone else, but it's not done just once it's several times every opportunity that, that we have to communicate that message from the small huddles, with your smaller teams, to the broader teams that you have to have it cascade and still be mindful about. It's the little details, like I said, in terms of, do you care and is it enough for you to care? And I think that word gets lost a lot, especially in business, right? Because it may be, seem like maybe too soft, but this is the word that people wanna hear more than ever during COVID and today. Right. Do you care about me because if not, I'm just here for that paycheck and I'm gone the next day, or I'll tell you, I'm showing up tomorrow and don't show up the next day. So really thinking through, in terms of what is that meaningful word care and how is that being executed against any initiative that you're doing when it comes to people?
Michelle BB 00:27:12 So what I heard and I think if for all of our listeners out there, if there's one takeaway here, it's people want to hear, do you care about me? And I think that is so important because I think this sort of is a good segue into your work around emotional intelligence and also empathy. We don't have the option of not caring and that's not because certainly we, we want to retain our talent. We want people to stay. But I think in this time, and in this moment, we need to be recognizing the importance of our humanity to the point you made before. And I think that there's still a lot of work that needs to be done in this area. And so I'd love for you to talk a little bit about your work around emotional intelligence. Particularly with leaders,
Simone 00:28:08 I use the work for emotional intelligence for my toxic rock stars. And I say that they're the ones who will kill it with their numbers and also killing their people at the same time. Yeah. And really why lack of awareness. They're so focused on those results, focused on how to get ahead, that they've forgotten that they have a team who's working with them in the trenches with them, right? And so this is where the work becomes a forever more important for these groups because they need to understand how they see themselves, but also how they expressing themselves in that moment. But more importantly, how is that being received or not with their audience, with their teams. And so that it becomes really important in terms of understanding that their communications to themselves and to others.
Michelle BB 00:29:07 Mm mm.
Simone 00:29:09 Because that communication or how interactions or however they're operating also defines how they build relationships and determines that level of empathy that they have, or don't have, then it comes into not empathy for only for self, but for team, but then the communities in which you're serving and do even understand the impact that's being created. Right? Mm-hmm <affirmative> by everything decisions that you make or your team interacts with the organizations outside of the business, the key thing within that is how are we building the relationships? Have you sat down with your teams and asked them, how are they doing? What's in it for them? Why are they here? And nine times out of 10, it's like, no, they're doing all the talking, no listening. And some folks will say, Hey, I don't have enough time, time to do that. And I said, that's the breakdown, right?
Simone 00:30:00 Mm-hmm <affirmative>, mm-hmm <affirmative> cause you're so focused on the results, but not on the people. But if you continue to, to leave them behind, ignore low engagement, they're gonna leave. Right. And so having them come to that awareness as part of that process, and then there's some of them too, have this command control and autonomic way of operating and being as a leader that you don't in opportunities to bring them into the decision making. This is where the transparency becomes ever vitally important, right? Because as they're making decisions, you're explaining to them how things get done. What are some of the thought processes that you're doing? And you're actually mentoring and coaching at the same time, cuz most likely your teams really don't understand how their work contributes to what's happening. This becomes that teaching moment, if you will, to impart your knowledge, but also get an understanding of where their strengths and areas of opportunities to develop comes. But if we don't have that relationship building empathy piece around it, it gets lost in missed
Michelle BB 00:31:01 A long time ago. Someone asked me how much time are you spending leading your team? And I won't tell you what that percentage was because it was not right. It seemed to me the right answer was the inverse in that we should be spending far more of our time leading our teams and focusing on their growth and development and their success probably 80/20 rule would be my guess. So it was a while ago when I learned this lesson, even today, back to your point, this focus on results and not necessarily thinking about the team, do we still see that today? Where people aren't spending nearly enough time and the balance is off.
Simone 00:31:51 Yeah. And especially now that folks are working distributed. Yeah. Yes. Because then what happens? <laugh> emphatically. Yes, <laugh> right out sight out of mind. And then the whole proximity bias comes into play that you alluded to earlier, right? The proximity bias comes in, geographical bias might come into play. And then it's so easy to just switch your camera off that you're outta sight. Out of mind, you're doing 50 million different things. You're, you're answering to emails, chat, whatever it is that's going on and not necessarily being present in that moment. And so really what the work that we're doing is, is finding creative ways for teams to engage, either finding in person ways or just in terms of, from a virtual perspective where it's not a so-called happy hour online, those teams that are distributed, they need more contact, especially if they were hired during COVID. So that means that they've never seen the team never experienced the culture. Don't really know what's going on. That high intense contact is vitally important to enable them to understand what they're doing, how they're doing the expectations of the work and things of that nature. I say, yes, we need to really overly index on engaging during this time
Michelle BB 00:33:12 Distributed teams need more contact. I can't identify with some of my employees who joined during COVID and have never had an in-office experience because you know, I'm, I'm much, much, much older. And my first experience in the workplace were you were there in an office five days a week, also fully dressed up and a whole bunch of other things that we won't get into. But it seems to me that there are a couple of things going on. Number one, we've got people again, to your point who have never had that kind of social interaction in an office environment where the organic conversations that come up the way in which we learn the ability to look over someone's shoulder and get information. None of that happens now because when we shut the laptop, everything it's done. But I also think that there's something else happening and I'd love to get your opinion on this, which is really a difference in generations, right? Are we seeing differences in the way that I don't wanna say older and younger generations, but I feel like there's something there. And perhaps it is the way in which we were brought up in business. And perhaps it is the things that younger generations value more than say compensation. And I'd love to get your take on what are some of those differences
Simone 00:34:44 From a social and cultural perspective, the Gen Zs, for example, they are more culturally diverse group. They understand the differences from that perspective. I had my little ones say, oh yeah, pronouns mom, this is what this means. And she's explaining the flags and different things. And I'm like, oh, okay. They are very much well aware of what's happening. Mm-hmm <affirmative> they bring their values and purpose. And that's what they're really drawn to. And the expectations are that businesses align with their values. They wanna know what's going on. How do we do this and why are we doing this? And how can I have impact fundamentally, we all want those things. They're just more vocal in terms of what they <laugh> of how they want it. And especially when you're talking about climate change and sustainability in, in perspective, I mean, they're very conscious in terms of where we are, <laugh> within the world and what we need to do and how collectively we need to act to affect change.
Simone 00:35:37 And so if they're not seeing these things as part of their values systems in the workplace, and that becomes a disconnect because now it becomes, do I have to suppress myself or am I suppressing and not be my authentic self at work? Do I have to cover and hide? Right? And so that's where that disconnect takes place or that frustration might occurring. I think that McKinsey actually post had a study, a recent study, looked at the, um, millennials, Gen Zs populations. And they're very scared right now in terms of their financial security. And so when you have these conversations around wage and you know, minimum wage, and should we, should we, or should we not? And what the max should be, it's impacting a lot of their decisions of where they want to work. We currently have teachers that there's a huge deficit right now, right? And this is a foundational profession that's needed all over. And you can't find folks to actually want to willing to go into these professions because the pay may not be that great. Right. And so just thinking about, you know, financial, that might not be the first thing, but really that is something that's stirring also within them around their concerns and their viability and sustainability.
Michelle BB 00:36:55 This is such an important and interesting conversation. And I think we've really, I think run the gamut, but the reality is this overarching message is really around. I think, emotional intelligence, understanding what's happening within your organization, understanding what's happening with your teams and what they need and holding yourself accountable as a leader for the work that you're doing, what are the key takeaways? What are the most important things that you want our listeners to do in terms of showing up and working on their own emotional intelligence in terms of their own journey, what do you wanna leave them with?
Simone 00:37:36 I contribute to a book called 30 days to courage. And in that talk about 30 ways through which that we can start instilling inclusion in our daily lives and habits. One of the first thing I talk about is around the comfort zone and defining what's comfortable for you. And how do you start doing small things to get out of that comfort area? So that way you can start understanding what discomfort feels like in your world and forcing yourself into a change of something different. Then talk about biases, right? And a really understanding your biases, your assumptions, your judgments, people may say, oh, I don't have biases, but everyone has biases. We come into conversations with assumptions and judgments around people that we've been interacting with. How can we come in with more curiosity and leading more with heart than just in terms of what you normally assume is going to take place?
Simone 00:38:25 I also say in terms of communication, and I think that's really important how we communicate. I don't know how many times I've sat in a room where all females and someone says, Hey guys, why don't we start X, Y, and Zs. And I go, what guys? Or if we're ladies and people say, Hey, girls, and I'm like, I'm sorry, is everyone over 18 here? <laugh>, <laugh>, it's small things, but have huge impact. And I think just looking at everything that we can do, the small pebbles that come into that create bigger changes. And I think that's what we can do.
Michelle BB 00:38:57 I love that. Thank you, Simone. And I wish we had more time and maybe we can do a part two at some point, because this has just been so valuable for me, but also I know for our listeners, but I do have one more question. Everyone's like, it's not one question it's three and it is it's one question and three parts. So let's just everyone. But I've asked this to every single guest since I started the edge more than two years ago. What are you learning right now? Or what have you recently learned? That's had an impact. Second. How are you applying that? What are you doing with that learning and the third? What advice about learning in particular, would you share with others? So it's, what are you learning? How are you applying? What advice would you
Simone 00:39:41 Give? When I think about what I'm learning, it's really around my self care and being very intentional about what I do and how I do. And it's not just, I work out, it's not just about working out it really. I looked at it in very dimensions from the mental health perspective, my health perspective, and those types of things. And I read a book about 10 years ago about the four-day work week. And I said, oh, this would be great if I could do that. And I said, you know what, I'm gonna put at some structures, boundaries, disciplines to allow myself to do that. And so I really became intentional about boarding off that one day, where I can focus on self care. I can think, cause I wasn't able to think before, you know, in terms of the business or just trying to think in terms of what I wanted to do.
Simone 00:40:34 And so really creating that kind of vessel for myself to allow me to be. And I had a friend of mine, you know, when I told them about it, what I was doing, checked in on me and said, how's that going Simone? And I said, you know, it's still going. And it's a work in progress cause there are times where people want to infringe upon that time. And I have to say no. And sometimes I feel guilty saying no, right. But I said, who am I serving? And I'm serving myself and I need this time. That's something that I'm, I'm learning and practicing and, and trying to remain steadfast about.
Michelle BB 00:41:06 Oh, I love that. Thank you so much for sharing that. And Simon, thank you for joining us today. I wanna go back to what we talked about in the beginning and that's really this idea of building true diversity, genuine equity and meaningful inclusion. It's so important, but it's also emotional. And I think that we are really gonna have to be comfortable getting uncomfortable in some conversations if we're going to affect change. So I really wanna thank you for sharing your thoughts and your expertise with us.
Simone 00:41:40 Thank you for having me
Michelle BB 00:41:48 And to our listeners. Thank you for tuning into this into every episode. As we unleash our edge together at Skillsoft, we propel organizations and people to grow together through transformative learning experiences. And these learning experiences include hard skills in areas like coding and cyber and cloud ops as well as power skills like communication, resilient and emotional intelligence and listening to Simone today. I hope you're inspired to show up and do the work actively listen, support and advocate for any groups or individuals who feel marginalized. We'll add a link where you can learn more about the work Simone is doing, but I wanna thank you again. I'm Michelle BB. This is The Edge. And until next time, keep learning, keep growing and be well.
About Our Guest
Nesha Pai, CPA
Nesha Pai is the founder of Pai CPA, PLLC in Charlotte, NC. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from NC State University and has held her CPA license since 1996, after passing her first attempt at the exam as a senior. She began her career and cultivated her passion for helping businesses within the world-renowned accounting firm Arthur Andersen, and later within multiple, privately held Fortune 500 companies as a business consultant, relationship facilitator, and accounting analyst. She realized she had a strong pull towards the small business and entrepreneurial sector.
Since starting her own firm in 2011, Nesha has continued nourishing her vision and the business growth of the Queen City by launching a podcast series, ‘Piece of the Pai,’ that focuses on successful entrepreneurs sharing their business insight. In January 2020 , Nesha published her book “Overcoming Ordinary Obstacles”, which won the award in the Multicultural Non-Fiction category by the American Book Fest. She has been a Charlotte resident since 1993, and was named as one of the Top 50 Most Influential Women of 2020 in the Mecklenburg Times. and was in the 2021 cast of Dancing With The Stars Charlotte for Carolina Breast Friends.
About Our Host
As Chief Marketing Officer, Michelle leads a global marketing organization, focused on transforming today’s workforce for tomorrow’s economy. Since joining the company, she has been responsible for Skillsoft’s global marketing strategy, which includes generating awareness, driving preference, and building affinity for Skillsoft. Additionally – and perhaps most importantly – Michelle serves as the company's brand evangelist, helping to build a vibrant community of passionate learners.
With more than 25 years of marketing, branding, and strategy experience, Michelle has made it her personal mission to support the advancement of women in business. Prior to Skillsoft, she served as Chief Marketing Officer of IBM Watson, where she was instrumental in developing the first “Women Leaders in AI” program, which honors women who put AI to work across industries and around the globe. She also served as the global head of marketing for The Weather Company, an IBM Business, helping companies understand how to anticipate, plan for, and ultimately make better decisions – with greater confidence – in the face of weather.
Michelle is a prolific speaker on a range of topics, including the war for talent, digital transformation, and marketing in a post-pandemic world. She covers these topics and more as the host of Skillsoft's podcast, The Edge, now in its second season. She has authored countless papers covering a range of business and marketing topics, was at the center of Skillsoft’s leadership role in DEI through free “Leadercamps,” and has taught two Percipio courses on the Pink Pandemic and Public Speaking.
Michelle is also a founding member of CMO Huddles, a group dedicated to bringing together and empowering highly effective B2B CMOs to share, care, and dare each other to greatness. Michelle holds a Master’s degree from Simmons University and sits on the pro side of the Oxford comma debate.