Life on the Wheel

I'm not going to die.

Or at least I am living in denial about my inevitable death.

Maybe you are too.

That's why I didn't quite know what to expect or think as I prepared to speak in Nashville at the National Funeral Directors Association.

Because the subject of death is so uncomfortable for nearly all of us, we are continually in denial. We tend not to think about it and pretend that it's not going to happen.

But the members of the National Funeral Directors Association don't have that luxury. These are people who confront human mortality all the time. Every workday is spent dealing with the nitty-gritty realities of death and the tender feelings of the mourners left behind. You could even say these professionals are at the top of the S Curve of dealing with death.

Not so for most of us. Because talking about funerals reminds us of the reality of death, we don't usually want to talk about funerals either. I knew very little about the industry.

I had a bit of awakening, similar to when I studied Mike Rowe and his work. Funeral Directors are not people we give much thought to, most of the time. But they are people who do an essential job, who get dirty on our behalf. Because we don't really want to need their services, we probably aren't as appreciative of them as we ought to be.

They are the people who are there to be our guide when we are at the launch point of the S Curve of mourning, loss, and grief.

I was humbled to hear them share stories of kindness rendered at a moment of deep pain, when a child has died, for example, the compassion offered and the sense of mission they have for this work.

While speaking with them, I was reminded of Natalie Babbitt's classic of children's literature, Tuck Everlasting. It is an elegant rumination on the role death plays in life with lessons for adults and children.

Here's a summary for those unfamiliar with the story. Winnie Cooper, the young protagonist, has stumbled on the secret of a magical spring of water. Drink from it, and you will be immortal. She meets the Tuck family, who drank from the spring many years before and have been arrested in their development ever since. They don't age, and they don't die. They live an itinerant life, trying to keep their secret, a secret.

There is also an antagonist, a man who has heard rumors of this spring and wants to find it and monetize it. Of course, he wants to drink from it himself. But the Tucks have lived with their unnatural situation long enough to understand that it would be a bad idea.

Pa Tuck wants to persuade Winnie not to drink from the spring.

Dying's part of the wheel, right there next to being born…. Living's heavy work, but off to one side, the way we are, it's useless too. It don't make no sense. If I knowed how to climb back on the wheel, I'd do it in a minute. You can't have living without dying. So you can't call it living, what we got. We just are, we just be, like rocks beside the road….I want to grow again and change. And if that means I got to move on at the end of it, then I want that, too.”

I want to grow and change–––I hope you do too!

This week, our podcast guest is Jennifer Moss, an award-winning journalist, nationally syndicated columnist, and author of The Burnout Epidemic: The Rise of Chronic Stress and How We Can Fix It.

When healthy stress levels get out of control, it can lead to burnout, a massive blocker for our S Curves. I think you'll find some useful ideas in our conversation.

As always, thanks for being here!

My best,
Whitney

Bring It to Better It

Earlier this week, I was in a meeting (not unusual). The presenter was well-prepared, but I was distracted and somewhat disengaged. I didn't get a lot out of it.

I know better than to let that happen.

Especially because, just days before, when I was the presenter, I'd had exactly the opposite experience.

I offered Ed Mulitalo, the head football coach at Southern Virginia University, to speak to the football team. SVU is where my husband teaches, and our daughter goes to school. The Mulitalos are family friends. I'm invested in their success.

My initial impulse was to be of service––teaching the team principles and ideas that I wish I had learned in college, such as disrupting our mindset, how to rewire our brains, and that the game, any game, gets played between the goal posts of our ears first.

I didn't expect the team to be of service to me.

Typically, when I do a facilitated session, I talk about 100% responsibility –– in the words of Jocko Willink, “extreme ownership.” It's a reminder I use, thanks in part to my mentor Marshall Goldsmith and Disruption Advisors colleague Ralph Campbell, that the success of a speech or a session is only partly dependent on what the speaker does. It is also, to a not insignificant degree, attributable to what the audience or participants bring.

To date, this was one of my best speeches. It wasn't because of what I brought. It was what the team members brought.

We were in a relatively small room with 105 football players aged 18-25. They were rowdy, respectful, participative, and all-in.

When I asked questions, they spoke up. When I told them that I had to disrupt self-limiting beliefs that kept me from asking Pixar's Ed Catmull onto the podcast, these young athletes remonstrated with me.

And, when I asked them to commit to disrupting their mindset, they brought the house down with ferocity; the sound was deafening and exhilarating. Maximum intensity in a chorus of “Yes, I will do this.”

They participated, and because of their participation, the speech was better, and I was better. Now you understand why I shouldn't have been a distracted participant mere days later.

As a footnote, it reminds me of a recent interview with Michelle McKenna, who is, ironically, also in football—the CIO of the NFL. She said she often learns from the junior people on her team—the people in their 20s. At the time, I didn't really identify with her experience. But this week, I got it. I understood the discipline, eagerness, and integrity, all part of a committed desire to learn and be better.

When have you had an experience where the audience or group truly showed up? What can you do to better show up yourself? And when have you recently been around the next generation (whoever and wherever that is for you!)? How did they inspire you?

Our podcast guest this week is Steve Bullock, a money manager at Fidelity Investments. But that's not why we're chatting. He's also the author of Out of the Box Golf, where he analyzes a ton of data to upend conventional wisdom about the sport. Think of it as Moneyball for golf.

Steve has some bold predictions for the future of golf and provides important insights on overcoming the challenges of jumping to new S Curves.

We will make five copies of his book available. Hit reply and say, “My S Curve is Out of the Box.”

As always, thanks for being here!

My best,
Whitney

The Right Question

If you're getting worked up about a situation, stop. You are likely asking the wrong question.

That's what my truth-teller (aka the “husband”) said to me last week. He loves me and is invested enough in me to point out when I take off in an unproductive direction.

The scenario:

The 3rd accelerant of personal disruption is 'embrace your constraints.' I had a hard deadline on a project but very little time to work on it. Postponing was not an option. I needed to give my constraints, not just any old hug, but a huge bear hug.

The conversation started out gently enough. Here's what I need to do; here's the time I have to do it. That was the rational, logical approach.

Then, I started asking different questions: “Should I have started working on this earlier? Should I have created more time to work on this instead of letting other priorities fight their way to the top of the to-do list? Should I have worked all day Sunday even though I have committed not to for religious reasons? Picture me, working myself into a perseverating frenzy.

These are important questions to ask. I'm recognizing that part of growing up is threading our way through a variety of questions. But this was not the moment to ask them. Faced with the deadline, I needed to ask what would help me do the best that I can, given the circumstances, and without time-wasting wallowing (oh, this is so awful and challenging, I think I'll run from the bear). Once the project was done, then I could with a forgiving eye ask the other questions. What could I do to manage a similar situation better next time? How can I spend less time wandering down unproductive neural pathways?


Pardon the interruption. I want to tailor this newsletter to better meet your needs, so we are conducting a brief audience survey here. It will take about a minute, and it would be very kind of you! As a thank you, when you complete it, you will get a free PDF download about changing jobs.


The wrong questions are those that don't help you do what you need to get done now. Analyzing how you've gotten in the stressful pickle doesn't help in a pressure-filled moment or day. Stop battling—competing—with your circumstances, and start creating by embracing the constraints of those circumstances, whatever they are.

If you find yourself getting worked up, stop asking the wrong question; start asking the right question.

How am I going to create with what I have right now? How can my constraint become a tool of creation?

Our podcast this week is with the Chief Learning and Diversity Officer at Kraft Heinz, Pamay Bassey. She's the author of the daily interactive journal, Let's Learn Our Way Through It, Shall We? She is also one of the most interesting people I know.

Pamay's resume looks classically corporate, but her background is more unconventional. The comedy stage, rather than the corporate office, was her initial professional love. This was a delightful conversation for me, and I think you'll agree. Please join us.

My best,
Whitney

P.S. At the end of the podcast interview, there's a giveaway opportunity! If you respond to the question asked, you will be eligible for one of Pamay's reflection journals. I am making five available!

P.P.S. Last week we had a glitch in our system. Those who tried to access the podcast with Leena Nair were directed to the wrong webpage. The link has since been corrected. Please take the time to listen to Leena's advice for connecting to your purpose.

Seize the Season

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we passed the fall equinox last week.

It was accompanied by a few nights of star bright clear skies, a big, luminous full, or nearly full moon, and the cooler days and nights that signal the rollover from summer into autumn. The annual color-changing of the leaves makes this a favorite season of the year for many, including me.

Of course, I love spring when it arrives, and everything comes alive again after the cold, dreary winter. Although winter in its early days is pretty spectacular too, there's nothing to compare with the sparkling beauty of fresh snow. Winter is not my favorite season, but it does offer some of my favorite days, and I know a few people, especially skiers, who can't wait for it to start and wish it would never end. Summer, too, has its unique pleasures to enjoy. But by the time fall arrives, as it now has in Virginia, USA, I'm tired of the heat and humidity and am ready to put away the summer whites and get cozy.

Amazingly, while my half of the world is embarking on autumn and heading toward winter, the southern half is experiencing the spring rebirth en route to the days of summer abundance. Not everyone wants to live with all four seasons, but I do. That said, I know the coming of fall can signal hard times for many who suffer from the shorter days, lower sunlight, and more time cooped up indoors. Research (and personal experience) tell us that although the autumn “fall back” time change gives us an extra hour of sleep, it also discombobulates our circadian rhythms. Leaving us stressed and cranky for several days and often more. But overall, it seems we love the seasons when they are new and then gradually tire of them over time and feel refreshed when change is upon us again.


Pardon the interruption, but I have a quick ask. We are seeking to better tailor this newsletter to meet your needs, so we are conducting a quick audience survey, which is here. It will take about a minute and it would be very kind of you! As a thank you, when you complete it, you will get a free PDF download about changing jobs.


Here are a few things I'm considering that would shake up the routine and help maximize the benefits of the changing season while minimizing the negatives.

  • Permit myself to sleep a little more. Once upon a time, before artificial light, people slept when it was dark. Candles, lamp oil, fuel for the fire were all finite resources to be used sparingly. In the months with less daylight, this meant that people slept A LOT. I can't see myself sleeping 14 hours a day, but it would be in harmony with history and biology to add a little extra sleep to my nights.
  • Focus on the unique pleasures of this time of year. In my part of the world, that means evening fires, hot cider, fresh bread, homemade soup, sweaters, and long walks outdoors in the cool air. Summer reading is popular, but it's never too soon to make a list of good books to help ease the way through the long evenings of the darker months. We DO have artificial light; we might as well put it to good use.
  • Be on the lookout for people around me who might need a positive boost. Where and how can I add a little sunshine to someone's day?

Whatever I do, I aim to keep it simple. Overly ambitious goals or changes in routine tend to backfire. Sleep a little, breathe the autumn air both indoors and out, and find ways to be kind to those around me.

What do you do to seize the season, whether it's autumn or spring for you now?

Our podcast guest this week is Leena Nair, the Chief Human Resources Officer at Unilever. She's also the first female, first Asian, and youngest CHRO in the company's history.

We discuss why raising your hand for the most difficult jobs is one of the most important things you can do. As she says, “When was the last time you did something for the first time in your life? That's the last time you grew.”

Leena explains, “Companies with purpose last. And people with purpose thrive,” and she has the data to back it up. I hope you'll be as inspired as I was!

Thanks, as always, for being here!

My best,
Whitney

To Tell the Truth

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived, and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.” – John F. Kennedy

I'm excited for you to listen to this week's podcast, partly because it came about when our guest, Harry Kraemer, was invested enough in me to be a truth-teller.

Here's a little background on Harry: over a 20+ year career, he rose through the ranks of Baxter International, a multi-billion-dollar healthcare company, and ultimately served as the CEO. Today he is a professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management focused on leadership and values.

As you will hear in the podcast, after reading an early draft of my upcoming book Smart GrowthHarry made the pointed observation that in what I had written, I wasn't living my values. He perceived that I seemed to be hiding from or shying away from my true point of view. One result of his observation was that chapter two changed considerably.


Pardon the interruption, but I have a quick ask. As we seek to tailor this newsletter better to meet your needs, we are conducting a brief audience survey here. It will take about a minute, and it would be very kind of you! As a thank you, when you complete it, you will get a free PDF download about changing jobs.



We all need truth-tellers in our lives. These are people who care enough about us to risk telling us the truth and to show us our blind spots, even when it might be uncomfortable for them. 
Another truth-teller for this book was an award-winning young adult fiction writer, Julie Berry. Neither she nor Heather Hunt, one of our team's primary writers/editors, pull punches. After Julie read a not-so-early draft of the manuscript, the best and only word to describe what she did was evisceration.

These are all people whose opinions I value. All people I respect. All people who help me become a better leader and author, and a better person.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to be a truth-teller myself, to speak the truth as I saw it. It was not easy to do. I, like most people, want to be liked. When we tell people things they may not want to hear, they may not like us quite so well. I want to be a cheerleader, and I am and will continue to be. But to be a coach (and true cheerleader!) I have to be willing to tell people the truth.

It's the only way they will know that I am truly investing in them.

If we can hear the truth when it's spoken to us—even when painful, even when we don't like it—and we can internalize it and recognize the goodwill that motivates it, it can have a lot of power in our lives. We will be better because of it. Our relationships can be improved, refined, and strengthened by it. The truth spoken with goodwill has more power to do good than any amount of glib half-truth. The truth will set us free.

Who is invested enough in you to tell you the truth?

To whom have you been willing to speak the truth?

Who do you want to invest in, with the truth?

Truth-telling can feel risky and be difficult. Acknowledge your truth-tellers and express your thanks.

As always, thanks for being here!

My best,
Whitney

The Quarantine Cocoon

It's been almost a year since I last traveled for work.

I knew that traveling again was going to challenge me. At the best of times, travel introduces all sorts of friction into a life routine—airport hassles en route to making your flight, sleeping in different beds in unfamiliar places, and let's not forget the midnight run to the hotel lobby asking for toothpaste.

What I didn't quite anticipate was that I wouldn't be as productive as I've been while not traveling. There's been automaticity to my routine; I knew how much I could squeeze out of a given day.

I also didn't expect how challenging it would be to start interacting with people in person again.

One of the things that I have been working on for the past few months (my whole life, really, but especially these past few months) is trying to show up as my best self—full of love—as I interact with each person.

Being at home has provided a control group of sorts, a limited number of people in a fairly predictable array of circumstances. But increasing the variables in new situations: on an airplane, waiting in line, attending a large conference, or at a wedding reception, the order of magnitude multiplies. More people means more of the variables outside of my control.

With traveling again, the ability to show up as my best self was pressure tested. In general, I did pretty well. But there were moments when I would slip into my old habits (one of them being micro-managing, as anyone close to me will tell you).

It was in those moments that I realized, oh, yup, onto the launch point of a new curve. I'm out of my cocoon. Practicing something new.

It's a wonderful thing to be around more people, to see people in three dimensions, to hug them, and smile at them in person. But as we re-enter normal society, some of what we practiced during our time out will get tested.

The progress that I made, I want to hold onto that and build on it.

What about you?

Is there something that you've done in the laboratory of your quarantine that you want to continue to make progress on? What do you want to get even better at as you emerge from your cocoon?


Pardon the interruption, but I have a quick ask. We are seeking to better tailor this newsletter to meet your needs, so we are conducting a quick audience survey, which is here. It will take about a minute, and it would be very kind of you! As a thank you, when you complete it, you will get a free PDF download about changing jobs.


Our podcast guest this week is Jacqueline Novogratz, founder of Acumen. I have admired her work since I read her memoir, The Blue Sweater, in 2009. She upended her career in international banking to tackle global poverty.

Talk about a person who truly shows up with full love and goodness. If you are looking for motivation to grow and develop, you will want to listen to this episode.

As always, thank you for being here!

My best,
Whitney

Gold for the Guide

“If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.” Admiral William H. McRaven

The 2020 Paralympics came to an end this past weekend, and with them, the curtain fell on the drama associated with the 2020 Olympics postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic. The Paralympics have become a favorite event in their own right, with inspiring stories equal to those associated with the longer-running, traditional event.

Here’s an example: Liu Cuiqing of China broke the Paralympic record in the women’s 400-meter race to win a gold medal in Tokyo. She has previously won gold medals in this event in world championships and various medals over the years in races of different lengths: 100-meter, 200-meter, and 400-meter.

Of course, a Paralympian is competing with some form of extra physical challenge. In Liu Cuiqing’s case, the challenge is that she is blind. She competes in what is labeled T11 events, specifically for blind athletes.

I’m a runner, though not competitively. If you’re like me, it’s impossible to imagine running without sight and having to run fast. Running competitively, with all possible speed, without being able to see the track you are on, the space ahead of you, your competitors, or the finish line for which you are heading. Courageous is the word that I would choose to describe such a feat.

Competing in T11 events is made possible by a guide. Liu Cuiqing’s guide is Xu Donglin. As they run, he is connected to her by a four-inch rope cuffed to her hand and his. He is, she says, literally her eyes. They’ve run together since 2013. You can get a peek at them here.

In the last Paralympics, Xu Donglin was injured, and he has run with the injury ever since. “I have only one objective, to guide her to the finish line even if I end up with a lame foot,” he says. He is also trying to get her to the finish line first, whether for a world championship, a Paralympic gold medal, or a new record time, which is only about 15% slower than the Olympic record.

Running in such a partnership takes a lot of training, so Xu is there for that. He makes sure they are matching their stride and arm movements. Xu also spots her during weight training. He helps her run alone by clapping down the length of a track so she can run toward the sound of his hands. When race time arrives, he positions her feet in the starting blocks, ensures her hands are behind the starting line so she won’t be penalized, and confirms their short rope securely connects them. Then he gets himself set for the race. Importantly, he makes sure that she crosses the finish line before he does.

Only recently has it been decided that guides will receive medals too.

We are inspired by heroes, by the courage of someone like Liu Cuiqing, who runs competitively in a completely dark world. She says that if she could have three days of light, she would first like to see her guide’s face.

We are all heroes on our own journey. But are we recognizing and awarding gold to our guides?

This week, our podcast guest is Astrid Tuminez, president of Utah Valley University, the largest university in Utah. Born into terrible poverty in the Philippines, she is the hero of her story, but one who gives credit to those who have lent a helping hand. Now, she is a guide, helping others to be the hero of their story.

As always, thanks for being here!

My best,
Whitney

P.S. Thank you to Etta King, president of our local Relief Society, for sharing Liu Cuiqing and Xu Donglin’s story with me.

P.P.S. A quick favor. I want to make sure that this newsletter is meeting your needs, so we are conducting a quick audience survey, which is here. It will take about a minute. As a small gesture of appreciation, when you complete it, you will receive a PDF download on making a job or career change.

Family Rituals

We have a weekly family ritual where we share our individual sweet, sour, spiritual, and surprise events from the week. It is an opportunity for family connection but also personal reflection. We can acknowledge what has not gone well while also framing the narrative to emphasize the positive. We are closer as a family as a result of this weekly exercise.

So, I thought I would do some of this with you!

I'll start with a surprise: I got on a plane for the first time in nearly eight months. Is it just me, or are people kinder than they were 18 months ago? Perhaps being masked makes us feel emotionally safer and more open to each other. My other surprise occurred at my niece Eve's wedding luncheon. There was a taco truck for the luncheon, with authentic street tacos like you get in Mexico. It was wonderful sitting in the San Diego sun on a Friday afternoon eating street tacos at an extended family gathering. Upside surprise!

It was deeply satisfying to see my niece so happy (I will share photos on Instagram), her husband's family so delighted to have her in their family, and to see her surrounded by people who love her and to whom she gives love. American essayist, novelist, and poet Wendell Berry said —

Lovers…say their vows to the community as much as to one another, and the community gathers around them to hear and to wish them well, on their behalf and on its own. It gathers around them because it understands how necessary, how joyful, and how fearful this joining is. Here, at the very heart of community life, we find not something to sell as in the public market but this momentous giving.

My sweet for the week was being with my family. This is the first wedding of my parents' grandchildren––my mom, brother, in-laws, cousins, nieces, and nephews were all there. Plus, I got to spend time with my son, David, who's now in his twenties, and mostly on his own. We laughed together, learned from, and taught each other. We're grateful for how our relationship is evolving into what it will be in the future, not adult/child, but adult/adult. When things didn't work, we could tell each other. When things worked, we could appreciate and talk to one another. This is how I want my most important relationships to be—comfortable, collegial, and always building (yes, always in the sweet spot of the S Curve)!

Do you have a sweet, sour, spiritual, surprise, or some similar type of life inventory with your family?

Our this week is Mike Rowe, a man who has a tight-knit family. His admiration for his grandfather and a call from his mother led to the work that we know him for, most famously as the originator and host of reality TV's Dirty Jobs.

I've been thinking about the importance of work and valuing every kind of work, especially the work of those who get dirty on our behalf. My conversation with Mike helped me recognize that I wasn't appropriately valuing essential workers. I didn't know that I felt that way. It's ironic because I come from a long line of mechanics on my mother's side and miners on my father's side. But I did have a white-collar bias. Sometimes we bundle a whole host of ideas and mental models that weren't meant to be bundled. Hard work that improves lives and that is done well with care, is valuable work, no matter what kind of work it is.

As always, thanks for being here!

My best, Whitney

P.S. We have ten signed copies of Mike's book, , available to you–––hit return and say, “I am grateful for “dirty job” S Curves!

Growing Smart

“We can use data, computers, and technology to see our real selves more clearly.” – Chris Dancy

I am currently obsessed with all things smart.

This is partly because the title of our (relatively) soon-to-be-published next book is .

The book’s objective is to demystify the process of personal growth–– to provide a tangible model for what growth looks like. We all want to grow, make progress, and achieve our potential, but we’re sometimes at a loss about where to start. Or how to gain momentum once we do start, and what to do when we’re tired of doing something we’ve learned to do so well that it no longer interests us.

The model is the S Curve of Learning, and it’s a tool that can help us answer these questions. It helps us monitor and track where we are in our growth. With this data in our possession, we can use it (as with a biometric device) to help affect and direct our development.

We can get smart about our growth.

This is why I am so excited for you to , who many say is “the world’s most connected man.” I think of him as the world’s quintessentially “smart” man because by examining and tracking every aspect of his physical health and lifestyle through apps, sensors, and data, he’s found a way to harness his habits and completely disrupt his life.

He will tell you his life was a bit of a mess, calling for some significant disruption.

But after his mother gave him an unexpected gift, he decided he wanted a better life. He started measuring and quantifying various facets of his life as a means of directing his self-improvement project. What you will hear on the podcast is fascinating, but here are just a few quotes from his book,, that either didn’t make their way into the podcast, or I simply want to underscore:

“We don’t have app stores; we have habit stores…with each app you download, you will be conditioned into a few new habits.”

“Your phone is a gateway to a world of distractions or awareness. Start by looking at your relationship with your health as a series of applications. You don’t need resolutions…you need a good data plan.”

“Social networks are databases of our values at any given moment…. A digital doppelganger.”

“As you become more intimate with who you are online and how digitally connected you are, you will find this is a wild and woolly world of self-realizations–––the last stop is self-actualization––become who you feel you were meant to be.”

“If you wear a sensor long enough, you become one.”

I experienced that with him. We had technical difficulties when we first logged on. I was discombobulated. He wasn’t. He was sensing my experience–––and focused on helping me be calm.

I’ll wrap with this quote from Chris–

“I used data to create feedback loops that created my perception of myself. If I could collect data, I could create an action.”

I use my Apple Watch to track steps. I use Whoop to track my sleep, strain, and recovery. The data tells me I am not taking care of my physical health as much as I thought. Technology is helping me see my true self more clearly.

What are you tracking, measuring, and quantifying?

How does it help you know where you are in your growth?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

And if you’d like to be eligible for 1 of 5 copies of Chris’ book, hit return and say, “I am growing smart.”

My best,
Whitney

The Ripple Effect

I alone cannot change the world. But I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples. – Mother Teresa

I have many memories from the years I spent working on Wall Street—most of them good, but some not. I clearly remember the year that I was determined to have ‘the conversation' with my boss about my annual bonus.

These are not easy conversations to have.

I'd done some preliminary research via several conversations with one of my male colleagues. He educated me about how he'd handled past salary negotiations to good effect. I thought the same positive outcome would result if I just followed his lead.

I was prepared with the data to back up my argument and went into the meeting anticipating success, despite my nerves. I was armed with my accomplishments of the past year and comparisons to what my colleagues (mostly male) had done and were doing. Instead of the favorable outcome I expected, my boss said to me, “Stop complaining and go back to work.”

I admit it rankles a little in memory, even after the passage of many years. No doubt there are other things I could have done and different approaches I could have chosen. I shoulder some responsibility for the outcome. But I think there was little doubt that no matter what I did, I was going to come up against a systemic barrier.

I read by Sally Helgesen very early in my career, even before this unfortunate episode. Sally is our podcast guest this week. You will hear in our interview that she was formative in my thinking as a professional woman. One of those people whose pebbles thrown has created a ripple in my life.

More recently, she wrote a book titled . This is a collaborative book with Marshall Goldsmith and results from some important conversations about how they coach and the results they see. Sally discovered Marshall was coaching men to do things out of the norm for them, but many of the practices and tactics he was suggesting to men mirrored what many women were already doing and had done for a long time. But these techniques, though often game-changing for men, weren't working for women and never had. Marshall and Sally put their heads together—Mars and Venus; and How Women Rise is their intellectual offspring, a terrific and practical book.

In our , Sally shares the wisdom she's gained through the years. She advises women, as well as men who want to coach women–it is illuminating. Sadly, many of the strategies that work for men still don't get results for women in the workplace. But at least we can outfit ourselves with a toolkit of strategies that have a better chance of working for, rather than against, us.

And, for extra fun—because I'm feeling exceptionally lighthearted this week, now that the manuscript for my next book is with the publisher. Along with a podcast interview with one of my heroines—I'm sharing the first piece I ever published with HBR almost 12 years ago. It's titled and it includes the story of another early-career negotiation experience of mine, one that worked out a little better.

The great news is that I'm getting better at negotiating, AND some of the systemic problems are resolving. As Sally says in our conversation, while there is still much to do, there has been much progress.

Thank you, as always, for being here!

My best, Whitney

P.S. If you'd like to be eligible for a copy of Sally and Marshall's book How Women Rise, hit return and say, “I want to help women rise up the S Curve.” We will choose five winners at random.


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