Gloria Feldt, Co-Founder/President Of Take The Lead | Women Will Take The Lead for (Everyone's) Good

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This is a podcast episode titled, Gloria Feldt, Co-Founder/President Of Take The Lead | Women Will Take The Lead for (Everyone's) Good. The summary for this episode is: ➡️ Like The Podcast? Leave A Rating: ➡️ About The Guest⁣ Gloria Feldt is a New York Times best-selling author, speaker, commentator, and feminist leader who has gained national recognition as a social and political advocate of women's rights. In 2013, she co-founded Take The Lead, a nonprofit initiative with a goal to propel women to leadership parity by 2025.  She is a former CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, directing the organization from 1996 to 2005. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, Time, NBC, Fast Company, Vanity Fair, and much more. ➡️ Show Links ➡️ Podcast Sponsors 1. CROWDHEALTH - (Code: SUCCESSSTORY) 2. NETSUITE - 3. HUBSPOT - ➡️ Talking Points⁣ 00:00 - Intro. 04:15 - Gloria Feldt's Origin Story 12:11 - Inhibition Towards Applying For Jobs You Deserve 18:58 - What Has Happened With Leadership During Covid?  23:24 - Why Has Covid Set Women Back 10-20 Years? 26:45 - Why Is Side Hustle Important? 28:30 - After Covid, How Can We Recover Or Move In The Right Direction? 34:00 - Why Gloria Chose A Particular Word For The Title Of Her Book? 35:36 - What Are The Lessons Or Advice People Can Get From Gloria’s Book?  40:00 - How to Find Organizations That Foster Employee Growth 47:41 - Advice Pulled Out Of Gloria’s Book 48:05 - Where Do People Connect With Gloria?  49:22 - What Was The Biggest Challenge Of Gloria’s Career And How Did She Overcome It? 50:03 - Who Was Gloria’s Mentor?  50:51 - A Book Or A Podcast Recommendation By Gloria 51:40 - What Would Gloria Tell Her 20-Year-Old-Self? 51:57 - What Does Success Mean To Gloria Feldt? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Scott D. Clary: Welcome to Success Story, the most useful podcast in the world. I'm your host. Scott D. Clary. The Success Story podcast is part of the HubSpot Podcast Network. The HubSpot Podcast Network has incredible podcasts like The Salesman Podcast hosted by Will Barron. Now, if you work in sales, you want to learn how to sell, or you want to peek at some of the latest sales news and insights, you need to listen to The Salesman Podcast. The host, Will Barron, helps sales professionals learn how to find buyers and win big business in effective and ethical ways. If you think any of the following topics resonate with, you're going to love the show; how to find and close your dream job in sales, 12 essential principles of selling, digital body language, how to have better Zoom sales meetings, or how to tell a remarkable sales story. If these are topics that would interest you go check out The Salesman Podcast wherever you get your podcasts, or at podcastnetwork. Today, my guest is Gloria Feldt. She is a New York times bestselling author, speaker commentator and feminist leader who has gained national recognition as a social and political advocate of women's rights. In 2013, she co- founded Take the Lead, which is a non- profit initiative with a goal to propel women to leadership parity by 2025. She's a former CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, directing the organization from 1996 to 2005. She has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Forbes, Times, NBC, Fast Company, Vanity Fair and many more publications. We spoke about some lessons from her book, some of the things she teaches over when she speaks on women leadership and empowerment, and I'm going to get to those in a second. But most importantly, we spoke about our present day situation. Take the Lead, the goal and the initiative of Take the Lead was to get women to leadership parity by 2025. We spoke about where we're at right now, what COVID did for women leadership. Did it push it forward, set it back? And then we also spoke about what organizations can actually do to foster women leadership and to help women progress into leadership positions. And then we spoke about some things that you can do if you are in a position and you want to move up in your career, some great leadership mindset things. Now, of course, she helps women move into leadership positions. The mindset topics that she speaks about are just great for anybody who wants to level up in their career, but she specifically teaches women how to leverage some of these techniques, so a few things that she teaches over that she goes into further detail in this show. Preparing yourself to lead. Preparing yourself to lead, and not just lead organizations, but lead change. She uses a framework called VCA, vision, courage, action. What is that? How does that impact your peers and yourself? She spoke about the consequences of actions when things don't go right, how to navigate that, how to navigate the ups and downs in an organization, how to flex as needed. We spoke about improving your impact in meetings and presentations. We spoke about proactive practices that you can deploy in your life that will allow you to build habits that help you sustain your leadership journey, and it filters out derailers, or what she calls power demons, as you try to progress in your career. We spoke about turning your obstacles into assets, and then lastly, we spoke about tapping into your power and your energy using ambition as fuel to achieve your intentions. And at a high level, it does sound like there's a lot of mindset things, but then she goes into detail about how to actually action it in your day- to- day. Let's jump right into this. We have a lot of great leadership lessons, some reality, some tough conversations about where we are at in terms of women leadership parity in 2022. This is Gloria Feldt, bestselling author, executive speaker, commentator, and feminist leader.

Gloria Feldt: Okay, so it's been a long and rocky road, but I will shorten it up for you. Scott, I was actually born and raised in small Texas towns, which surprises people as I'm sitting right now a couple of blocks from Columbus Circle in New York and feel very happy about that. But I grew up in a culture where women weren't given aspirations for careers, and they said if you went to college, it was to get your MRS, and that your job was to be a support system for everyone else. And I totally drank that Kool- Aid, I just want to tell you. I wanted to fit in, I wanted to be exactly what the culture was telling me I should be. And that was why I married my high school sweetheart, I had three kids by the time I was 20, just a few days after my 20th birthday. And then I woke up. I woke up. It was like a light bulb went off. My son, David, who is my youngest, calls himself mom's light bulb because he's heard this story so many times. But I don't know whether it was maybe a little maturity, maybe it was simply... Well, I will say I believe that the advent of the birth control pill helped. It helped me know that I could actually plan and space my children, and therefore be more intentional in general about my life to connect it with what I'm writing about right now. And I realized also that if I had to support three children, I didn't have any employable skills, so I started to a community college. I was living in Odessa, Texas at the time. If anybody is a Friday Night Lights fan out there, let me just tell you, it's a true story. My kids all graduated from Permian High School, we all were Mighty Mojo, it's for real. And so there was only a community college in Odessa at the time, and it took me therefore 12 years to finally get my bachelor's degree. And during that time, I had an opportunity to get involved in a lot of community service work. I became involved in the civil rights movement, for example, and that taught me one of the most important lessons that has guided me ever since, which is that people working together can change anything. And I value that lesson so much and it repeats itself over and over again in everything that I do. I also noticed that the women were doing all the frontline work and the men were getting all the leadership positions and all the credit, and that also gave me another aha, which is if there are civil rights, women must have them too. And so that was pretty much the moment where I decided that I would focus my life on women's equality in a variety of different forms. And I serendipitously was offered a position as the executive director of the small new Planned Parented affiliate in West Texas a few years after that, and I had planned on being a high school social studies teacher, which was an appropriate job for a woman at that time. But I did the inappropriate thing, and I didn't know how to... I had never run an organization. Honestly, I was totally unqualified, but I said yes. Don't ask me why. It's kind of become the mantra of my life, it's like," Just say yes." Because if you have these opportunities, give it a try. You never know what will happen. And I think that's good advice for a lot of people today who... Sometimes I think young people overthink what they want to do with their careers, and you need to have two things. You need to have that intentionality, but it's also good to be open to fortuity and to be willing to say yes if something interesting comes your way. Well, anyway, as I say, the rest is history. I ended up as the national president 20 years later, and left that job at the 30 year mark thinking 30 was a good round number, and I needed to go write the books I had been wanting to write for my entire life. The last book that I wrote before Intentioning was a study of why women hadn't reached parity in leadership positions in any sector. We were about 18% of the top leadership at that time across every single sector, from politics to corporate to entrepreneurs, it didn't matter what it was.

Scott D. Clary: Can I ask you to timestamp that too so I can understand... Because when you say 18%, how many years ago was that?

Gloria Feldt: Yeah, that was 10 years ago. That's 10 years ago.

Scott D. Clary: So not that long ago. No.

Gloria Feldt: Not that long ago. Not that long ago, no. Yeah. Right. So I had to find out why, because all my life I'd been opening doors and changing laws and thinking we have every opportunity, we've seen a woman first almost everything. Why were we still that far from parity? And what I found in my own research was that it's not that women lack ambition, which a lot of the research says, it is that we're socialized differently around power and intention from men. And we learn from the historical narrative an idea about power that is about fighting and wars and scarce resources. And that's not really even functional in today's world, because this is an economy based on brains, not brawn now, and so it's really about how can you innovate? How can you create? How can you make a bigger pie as opposed to thinking that you have to fight over the crumbs, and women are pretty good at those things. And I found that once I would suggest to women, well shift your thinking about power, quit thinking about it as being the power over, because I know you've had the negative aspects of that power, but think about it as being a generative power to. Power to. It's the power to make life better for yourself, your family, the world, whatever. Innovate, create. And I would see masks fall off of women's faces. Not the real masks we're wearing now, but masks, like masking their true feelings. And they would say," Well, I want that. I want that kind of power." And so that was where I started. And people started asking me to teach workshops using what I had written in this book, No Excuses, where I laid out what the problem was and what to do about it. I saw women have big breakthroughs in their ideas about themselves and what they could do, their careers, their aspirations. And I quickly realized that again, from what I had learned from the civil rights movement, people working together can change things, but when you try to do it by yourself, it's not usually a winning strategy. So I co- founded my nonprofit organizing, Take the Lead, and our mission is to prepare, that's train, develop, coach, inspire, role model programs and propel through thought leadership, women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across every sector by 2025. That's 70 to 150 years faster than they say we can do it in the United States. I really do believe this is a moment when we can move faster, even with the pandemic, which I'm sure we'll talk about. So enter the pandemic, and at the point of as we entered 2020, we had increased women in top leadership positions from 18% to 25%, and then the pandemic came. And so here we are now, and then I wrote the book intentioning to pick up from there.

Scott D. Clary: I want to unpack a few things, because that's incredible and I appreciate the research you put into this as well. When we're even moving from 18% to 25%, obviously we're not at parity. We were trying to hit 50% or above, right? We're trying to aim towards that. But when you're saying that... When you first did this research, you said that women were socialized different and there was more of a scarcity mindset and a combative, that's how we move forward, versus now when there's literally more resources than many people know what to do with, like in all seriousness. The abundance mindset where everybody can literally have a piece of the pie, everybody can have the job, the money, the life that they would like, if, of course, if they want to go after it. When you're socialized differently, does that mean that women weren't applying... What's the practical implication of that? Are women not applying for the jobs? What is the actual thing that stops them? Because that's the theory, and it makes sense. And it's not just theory, sorry. That's like the actual cause, but then what does that actually manifest as in somebody's career?

Gloria Feldt: Yeah. Well, it does manifest itself in very concrete ways. For example, if a man sees one or two things in a job description that he can do, he will apply. If a woman sees one or two things she can't do, she'll think she's not ready and she will not apply. There are other very concrete manifestations. When the website ZipRecruiter crunched the numbers in... They looked at comparable requests for salaries between men and women. Same job, same qualifications. They found that on average women asked$ 11,000 plus less than men for the same job with the same qualifications. When I saw that, I had this like," Oh my goodness, now I get what this different socialization, and frankly, the implicit bias that has been in our culture for so long, that's what it does to our heads." If you are a member of any underrepresented group and you have been judged differently than the predominant culture, it causes you to step back. It causes you not to feel as entitled, not to feel as secure in your own capabilities, and it really sets you back. I mean, it just literally physically and mentally sets you back. And so what I work to overcome in women is to understand that there's no reason to be set back by this, and in fact, the very characteristics that have been acculturated into us... And I want to say at the outset, I don't believe for one minute that men and women are hardwired differently. I don't believe that any of this is inevitable. I don't believe men are from Mars and women are from Venus, but the culture has treated us a little differently, and the result of that is that women are acculturated more from birth to respond to how they look. That takes the locus of power outside of yourself, to think first about what other people's think about them. And I tell you, I mean, it's a really big difference as opposed to little boys just go be noisy, go be messy, go be snotty, it's fine. And it imprints you for the rest of your life, and so the good news is that many of the characteristics that have been acculturated into women have become our superpowers, which is why I made this one of my leadership intentioning tools for women. Like take this implicit bias and understand how it's become your superpower, because now the business case is very clear that companies with more women in their leadership are more profitable. Well, use that. That is a huge strength. Why does that happen? It happens because women have been taught from birth to be empathetic, so you learn to read the room. And I think that's true also of people of color. If you have not been the group in power, you have to develop the capacity to read the room, to understand what's going on with people, the emotional underpinnings, as well as what they're saying. But you have to consciously use that as a strength, so I say, put on your cape and use those things as superpowers.

Scott D. Clary: So its a combination. I just want to take a second and thank the sponsor of today's episode, Crowd Health. Now, as we all know, open enrollment is ending soon. It's time to think about the best healthcare option for you and your family, and I know a lot of people are still trying to figure out what to do. And when it comes to healthcare, it's important that you're getting your money's worth. Crowd Health helps you with covering medical expenses. It's a more flexible and affordable healthcare option without the hassle of insurance, so while you're shopping around, don't forget to head to joincrowdhealth. com/ 99. Find out how Crowd Health can save you 40% to 60% in healthcare costs every single year. And just to give you an idea of what Crowd Health is, Crowd Health isn't health insurance, it's a modern way to pay for medical expenses. Crowd health is a community of people who are tired of paying into a broken system. Being in the Crowd Health community can save you 100s of dollars in monthly expenses and put 1, 000s of dollars back in your pocket. Now, you're probably asking why would I choose Crowd Health over traditional insurance? Three main reasons. Flexible, simple, membership- based. Membership is a monthly subscription, start or stop whenever you want. There's simple and transparent pricing that fits exactly what you need to use it. All you have to do is scan bills and throw them away. Crowd Health takes care of the rest. Now, Crowd Health is able to offer incredible pricing because of its community of health- conscious members. And they put together a special offer just for Success Story podcast listeners, so get your first six months at just$ 99 per month. That's a savings of almost 50% off their standard pricing, and a lot less than one of those crappy high deductible plans. Just go to joincrowdhealth. com/ 99 and enter code Success Story at signup. That's joincrowdhealth. com/ 99, and promo code is Success Story. Enter that when you sign up. Remember, Crowd Health is not health insurance, it's a community- powered alternative. Terms and conditions do apply. So you have a few things, right?

Gloria Feldt: Yeah.

Scott D. Clary: Because underrepresented groups do have all of these incredible leadership skills. It's just about unlocking it and enabling and pushing them or enabling them more, whatever it may be, so that they can actually use them in an environment where that's going to quite honestly impact positively and net positive for that bottom line of that business. And I want to unpack what has happened with leadership during COVID because I've seen a lot of things that have spoken to women leadership during COVID. I've seen it at a government level, but I don't know all the use cases. I'm sure you have some examples of at an organizational level or a business level, how women leadership did quite well during the pandemic.

Gloria Feldt: Mm- hmm( affirmative). It's interesting because it is true that we've seen that countries led by women have fared much better with the pandemic than other countries. Now, of course, it's a fairly small sample still, but-

Scott D. Clary: crosstalk yeah.

Gloria Feldt: But nevertheless it is-

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Gloria Feldt:'s a sample, and we can see that. And again, I think that has to do with the conditioning, social conditioning to be empathetic and to-

Scott D. Clary: Empathetic. Because it was Jacinda Ardern, that's the one I always kept crosstalk.

Gloria Feldt: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yeah.

Scott D. Clary: The prime minister of New Zealand. She was just killing it, like in such a good way at the beginning of the pandemic. And that was like the model globally.

Gloria Feldt: Yes.

Scott D. Clary: I think there was others examples, but that was the one that I remember.

Gloria Feldt: Yes. And one of the quotes that I use of hers in my book is that she says something like that people say that being empathetic makes you look weak, but I say it's just the opposite. I say, it's actually a strength. And that's a really good example of what I'm talking about when I say that we can take these ways that we've been acculturated and we can use them as superpowers. And there are things that men can learn from as well, and male leaders who are doing a better job tend to take on some of those characteristics as well, so it's not that only women can do it. It's that that's just how we have been acculturated. They do say that the data says that women have been set back 10 to maybe 30 years from the pandemic in terms of their career trajectories. And I don't want to understate at all the pain, the suffering, the... I mean, people have endured so much during the pandemic. I don't understate that at all, but from a leadership perspective and from an organizational perspective, a business perspective and a government perspective too, it's in those times of great disruption that you also have the opportunity for rebirth, that you have the opportunity to rethink, because when things are disrupted, when your society is disrupted, it forces, it literally forces boundaries to become permeable and structures that have been there forever have to loosen up, open up. And there's not a company now that doesn't know that people can work from home very productively. They know that you can actually find ways to take care of your family responsibilities and caregiving and do your work, so I foresee that, again, people working together can make this happen. If we really work together, we can usher in an era where our organizations and the leaders of organizations are much more flexible, which is what women have been asking for for quite some time, to enable both men and women to attend to their family responsibilities and do their work. So you'll see more family leave, you'll see more childcare opportunities. We're talking... I mean, in Congress right now, believe me, I never thought I would hear these two words together, infrastructure and childcare. And they're now talking about caregiving in general and childcare in particular as being a part of a necessary social infrastructure. I think that's just amazing, and if we really value children, that's exactly what we will make happen

Scott D. Clary: Yeah, but my question... I'm curious as to why the pandemic set women back 10 to 30 years, because I actually thought... When I was going, I just mentioned a very positive result, like it was like showing a prime example of how women in a leadership position just did absolutely incredible things. But you're saying that at a global level, women are set back 10 to 30 years, so what happened? Why is that? I thought that would've-

Gloria Feldt: The reason...

Scott D. Clary: Oh, go ahead. Sorry. No, go ahead.

Gloria Feldt: Yeah. No, no, it's an absolutely right follow on question, but it also points up exactly what I'm saying, which is that disruptions are both opportunities and... They're opportunity, but it can also set you back. It depends on what we decide to do with it. The reason that women have been set back is there are multiple things. Number one, women were in more of the low paying, and particularly women of color were in more of the low paying direct customer- facing jobs. That means they were in retail, that means they were in caregiving, that means childcare, in a lot of different jobs that closed down. I mean, they just weren't there anymore, so that was part of it. The other part of it was that the responsibilities for caregiving are still falling more on women's shoulders than on men's shoulders, and women are assuming more of that responsibility. And you could argue that women need to just say no, but I mean, you're not going to not let your children have their schooling, and women are homeschooling. And men are doing some of it, and I will say that I do think the pandemic has taught a lot of men who have children that it's not that easy to be home with kids all day. I think men have definitely seen that, and they're... I just did another podcast asked where the host said that his brother was the single parent of two boys and that he was going crazy with this-

Scott D. Clary: My goodness. It's not easy.

Gloria Feldt: Yeah. It's like," No, this is not easy." And also, caregiving for elderly parents, for example, and people didn't want their elders to have to go into group homes or nursing homes because the incidence of COVID was so high, so we were doing things at home. Look, I bought a mop. I was doing my own housekeeping for the first time in a long time. These are the kinds of things that set women back. The third reason I think is that... And I think this is probably true somewhat for men, would love to know your opinion of about this, as well as women. I think that this disruption has caused many people to rethink, what am I doing with my life? Is this what I want to be doing?

Scott D. Clary: Oh, 100%.

Gloria Feldt: Is this what I want my life to be about? And so women who have the option, and this obviously is a first world privileged woman option, some of them are just saying," I'm taking myself out of the workforce for a while because I need to rethink my whole life."

Scott D. Clary: I think that I have no data points or statistics, this is purely just my opinion, but I know that people are quitting in droves. And I think men, women, everybody is just realizing why would I commit to a company that I've put 30 years into that could furlough me or lay me off instantly? And now that permanent full- time job that my parents had and my grandparents had before, that's no longer the way you have to structure your career. Now you have to upscale, now you have to be very flexible, now you have to have multiple sources of income. People start the side hustles. People, they work one job, two jobs, or they jump ship every two years so they can get a better job, a better title, more money at another place, but I think people are focusing on themselves more than ever.

Gloria Feldt: I agree.

Scott D. Clary: They're not putting as much faith in that business or that company that hired you. I think that's men and women.

Gloria Feldt: Yeah. And I think that some are even saying," Well, maybe I don't need to make that much money. I need to make enough money to have a decent life, but I don't need this stress."

Scott D. Clary: That's true too.

Gloria Feldt: And I mean, we all have to make judgements like that throughout our lives, and people... You know this whole narrative that people have been laying on women for years about you can't have it all? Nobody has it all. Everybody has to make a series of choices every single day about what you're going to do with that 24 hours that you have, or that 18 waking hours, or however many hours you're awake. And I think we're just paying more attention to that now, and understanding that it is a series of choices, but we have to make our own choices about how we're going to spend these precious days that we have.

Scott D. Clary: Let's speak about intentioning, let's speak about moving the needle forward, because pandemic maybe brought us back a couple years, so that's okay, so that is what it is. It's not good, but it is what it is, so how do we go back in the right direction? What is intentioning? I want to even explain what that means from somebody who is just trying to push themselves in their career, in their life, getting a raise, getting a anything that's moving in the right direction. And then I'm assuming that intentioning also has a whole bunch of very practical, actionable things that you can think about in your career to move you in the right direction. I want to uncover those as well, so let's break it down. What is intentioning? Because you're writing this as the pandemic hit, so it's probably even more valuable now for people.

Gloria Feldt: Yes. Yes. Well, I had started writing it before the pandemic, a couple of... I started interviewing women before the pandemic, and in all of my books, I always include very actionable skills, tools, techniques that people can use to do whatever they want to do in their life, in their leadership, in their business, whatever it might be. And because I was a practical person and I like for... Actually, somebody has asked me, what is it that keeps driving you? And in truth, it's when somebody says to me," I read this in your book, or I heard you talk about this in one of your speeches and I did it and now I got a better job and now I got more pay." And then I'm like," Oh yeah, yes, that is what keeps me going." It's that. It's that. I like the practical part, I had started interviewing women intending to do exactly what I did, which was to build nine leadership intentioning tools around the stories of women who exemplify that particular skill or tool. Then the pandemic-

Scott D. Clary: And that's the case study? That's the use case, right?

Gloria Feldt: Yes, exactly. And then the pandemic came, and then I had to change a lot about the book because I realized it actually became a better and richer book, I think, because I needed to, first of all, put the pandemic in perspective, and exactly what we've been talking about, that disruption is.. It's a ending, but it's also a beginning. It's also a rebirth, an opportunity for rebirth, for rethinking, for re tooling. And so that was one part of it, and then of course there was also the recognition of deeply seated racial injustices that have been part of this country since it began. But with the murder of George Floyd, more people were recognizing this and becoming activists as a result of it, so I felt that I needed to put those things into the perspective. Those are things that leaders have to understand deeply and utilize in their leadership. And I wanted to make the point also that racism, sexism, homophobia, all of these things are joined at the head and they basically come from fear. They come from a belief in scarcity. They come from a concern that if there's a pie and I take a piece, there's less for you, when in truth, we can all make more pies. And we will not solve any of these disparities unless we join together and move forward together, so I wanted to make that point. And then I leap into the nine leadership intentioning tools with that as a backdrop, so that there's more context for it, and a context for understanding the value of diversity as something that can make us stronger and richer and smarter as opposed to dividing us. I hope I've delivered that message successfully and woven those ideas into all of these leadership tools.

Scott D. Clary: I just want to take a second and thank the sponsor of today's episode, NetSuite. Now, picture this. This is it. The putt to win the tournament. If you sink it, the championship is yours, but on your backswing, your hat falls over your eyes. Is this how you're running your business? Poor visibility into what's actually happening because you're relying on spreadsheets and outdated finance software. To see the full picture you need to upgrade to NetSuite by Oracle. If you are a business owner, you need visibility into what's happening in your business. NetSuite gives you that visibility. It gives you visibility over your financials, your inventory, HR, planning, budgeting, and more NetSuite is everything you need to have visibility, to have control, and most importantly, to grow all in one place. With NetSuite, you can automate your process and close your books in no time while staying well ahead of your competition. 93% of surveyed businesses increased both their visibility into what was going on as well as their control after they switched and upgraded to NetSuite. Remember, NetSuite is rated the number one cloud financial system to power your growth, and over 27,000 businesses already use NetSuite. And right now through to the end of the year, NetSuite is offering a one- of- a- kind financing program to those ready to upgrade at netsuite. com/ scottclary. So if you want to take advantage, head to scottclary for a special end of the year financing on the number one financial system for growing businesses. That is netsuite. com/ scottclary. And why and why that particular word for the title? What does intentioning mean to somebody? Because I've never heard that word before I read this, so-

Gloria Feldt: That's because I made it up. I made it up. I just made it up.

Scott D. Clary: I was wondering, I'm like," I don't think I've ever used that in a sentence before."

Gloria Feldt: But I want it to be in the dictionary. I want it to be the word of the year, next year, so crosstalk.

Scott D. Clary: No, it's good. It's like the act of doing something with intention.

Gloria Feldt: Exactly. And that's exactly... I was trying to find the right word and I looked in the dictionary, I looked in the thesaurus, I Googled for it, and I couldn't find exactly the right word, so I made it up. I just made it up because that's-

Scott D. Clary: I like it.

Gloria Feldt: What you say is exactly what I wanted to do, which was to take a noun, which is a very perfectly good noun, and intention is something we talk about a lot these days, but I wanted to exemplify the fact that intention is great, but unless you're doing it, it doesn't matter. And it's all about what you're actually doing. And I also differentiate between ambition and intention in that regard, because to me, ambition is I hope, I wish, I want. I've got a dream about it. Intention and intentioning is I will, I am, I'm doing it. I see myself having already done it, I know it will happen, so it's a qualitative kind of difference. And I feel that that is a linchpin. That is an absolute linchpin for helping women get to parity in leadership because they have to have that belief for themselves and the courage to act on it.

Scott D. Clary: crosstalk. Intention, yeah. I love that. Okay, so let's break down... You said there's a few very tactical takeaways in the book. There's nine tools, but we don't have to go through nine, obviously, that's why you go get the book. But pick a couple, pick one or two things that if somebody is... They're sitting in a career right now and they want to move their career, they want to get a promotion, they want to do something more or do something and move up. I don't know what that move up looks like, and maybe you can describe what they should be looking for. Should it be another company? Should it be a tip to negotiate? Should it be finding a mentor or sponsor within your own company? What's the actionable thing that somebody could do?

Gloria Feldt: I'm going to start with the first one because I believe it is the bedrock, and it is uncover yourself. And by that, I mean know who you are, get in touch with what your values are. I believe that the greatest leaders and the most effective leaders are very clear about who they are and what they believe, what values they will stand on, and they know themselves and they show themselves to others. But you have to know yourself first, before you can show yourself to others authentically, so that is the first tool. And both men and women say they cover themselves in the workplace because they're trying to fit in. Women more than men, and both men and women of color more than white women, because the culture was built by white men for white men who had women and people of color at home at the time, 250 years ago, doing the kind of taking care of their lives. And so the world has changed. The world has changed. The families are different. They're usually, if they're two partners, they're usually two breadwinners. And if there's one person, that breadwinner has to cover everything, so it's very different. Yeah, it's very different and not functional anymore, and so there is this need to uncover ourselves, and particularly in a society that is increasingly diverse, and we need to use that diversity as a strength, not as a divider, which is... That we could do a whole program on, but I'll move on. I will move on. I'm going to take one more here and then you can ask me some other questions about them, but one that is counterintuitive... So I have three... Three of these tools are what I call your self definitional tools, in other words, how you are introspective. Three of them are counterintuitive. Very often they're things your mother told you not to do, but you should, if you want to be a great leader. And the third bucket of these tools is the change leadership tools, so big systems change, how to make big systems change. A counterintuitive tool that is, I think, super important for women, is modulate confidence. There is a whole industry out there making tons of money trying to show women how to become confident. Confidence, however, is not something you can just learn. You get confident by doing things, by practicing, by actually rolling up your sleeves and doing the thing that scares you. And that's how you get confidence. You can't inject confidence into your veins. It really takes doing, and frankly, the reason I say modulate confidence is that if you're totally confident, why do you have any reason to learn something new? If you're totally confident, what's the burr under your saddle that helps you to want to learn new things, to try new things, to do better, to ascend to a higher level of a position? We need to learn to do things long before we're confident. You need to learn to do things, maybe as John F. Kennedy said," We go to the moon not because it's easy, but because it's hard." We do those things because they're hard, because that's where the growth is. That's where the growth is. That's what really teaches us how to be bigger and smarter and greater and build bigger businesses or run for Congress or whatever it is that we might want to do. Those are a couple of them.

Scott D. Clary: And say these are things that... Well, that... Yes, they're things that everybody should really try and internalize, but if you want to champion some of these things, do you think that you should try and champion them in the organization you're already in, or is this something that maybe the organization values has to align with your own personal values to really get the best effect? Because you're going to come up against some people that are not with it, not in line, like super bigoted, like old school, and that's a block or two. It can't just be one sided, because it's never going to happen if your immediate boss is just an absolute asshole, right? It's not going to happen. What do you suggest people look for? Another sort of like a practical thing, if somebody's trying to find an organization that will help enable these things, what do you look for? Is there a process for interviewing the interviewer? Is it finding the organization that, I don't know, has some sort of person or cultural or something in place that you look to, and this is an organization that's going to help support my growth? Because I know there's a lot of organizations that may not, or there's a lot of people within organizations that may not, and I want to keep people away from those and give them the best possible chance of succeeding in their careers, right? How do you find that?

Gloria Feldt: Right. Well, the first step again is to know yourself and decide what is that important to you? Because you're probably not going to ever get everything you want, and if you're working in an organization you'll make some compromises along the way, most likely. Actually in any situation. If it's your own business, it doesn't matter what it is, you'll probably make some compromises along the way, but you need to know what is it you care so much about that you will walk away rather than violate that? One of the power tools in my previous book, No Excuses, is called wear the shirt. And what that means is what do you believe so strongly you'd put it on your shirt and let other people see it? You hold that-

Scott D. Clary: I love it.

Gloria Feldt: ...belief so strongly. This is a shirt somebody gave me actually. crosstalk.

Scott D. Clary: I saw. I saw. Yeah, no, it's crosstalk.

Gloria Feldt: ...yeah. And I'm wearing that shirt today. That's my shirt for the day. But so you have to first of all figure that out, and your question is a good one for people to ask at different stages of their careers. Because when you're just starting out, you have more of the luxury to research organizations and zero in on, okay, this is where I feel like it's a fit for me. There's a young woman who was in one of my courses a few years ago, and I just noticed on LinkedIn that she had taken a new job. And when I read her logic for this new job, it was all about," I've had some great jobs before and I've learned a lot, but I wanted to go with this particular company because they put together my core value of belief in the power of education, with making it more democratized and available to people." This is like consciously, she was intentioning that she would be able to work in a culture, a set of values, a company that had the same value set that she had. You can research that. I mean, things are much more transparent now, and I think they're probably... It's not true of every company. I mean, that's true, but increasingly companies are having to be more transparent about what their values are and what their mission is. I mean, their mission may be to make money, but how do they do it and how are they serving the world when they make money? They're telling you that on their websites. Those are questions you can ask in interviews. It's perfectly legitimate to ask those questions, and I'll tell you as somebody who has hired a lot of people over the years, I appreciate it when people have done their research and they know what matters to them and they ask me those questions.

Scott D. Clary: No, but what I crosstalk want to say is, I just want people to feel comfortable asking these questions, because that's how you really set yourself up for success, right? You want to make sure you know what you're stepping into.

Gloria Feldt: Right. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah, and I think as you grow in your career, you have even more opportunity to be very straightforward and discerning. It may take you longer to get a job, that's for sure, but it's worth taking that time and making sure that you feel it's a culture that you will thrive in and that you can contribute to.

Scott D. Clary: I just want to take a second and thank the sponsor of today's episode, HubSpot. Now, the new year might have you thinking ahead to what you want out of your career, so when you think about your success story, what do you actually picture? Is it retiring early with a beautiful view of the skyline? Is it leaving a legacy with your name on it? Or maybe it's helping influence and change some of the world's most pressing issues. Whatever it is, writing your success story starts by working smart, because when you work smart, your success story writes itself. A HubSpot CRM platform helps your marketing campaigns work harder and smarter. With intuitive visual workflows and bot builders, you can create scalable automated campaigns across email, social media, web, and chat, so your customers hear your messages loud and clear. Are you tired of your content not adapting to mobile, making it difficult for your customers to absorb your message? A HubSpot CRM platform optimizes your content for multiple devices so that you can reach your customers wherever they are, which is just smart. Learn more about how you can transform your customers with a HubSpot CRM at hubspot. com. That's smart. I want to ask one more point and then we'll wrap up, because this has been really good. You've gone through a lot of stuff in the book too, I appreciate. There's one thing that I thought was really interesting and I just want to get your take on it. One of the change leadership tools you mentioned was be unreasonable. What does that mean?

Gloria Feldt: I quote George Bernard Shaw, it's one of my favorite quotes of all time, and it is," The reasonable man adapts to the world. The unreasonable man expects the world to adapt to him. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." And I give him credit that he was a little bit of a feminist in his day, and that if he were speaking today, he would include women in that. I'm sure he would do that. What it means is that if you... Again, it's sort of like the confidence issue. If you're self- satisfied, you aren't going to make any progress for the world. If you see a problem that needs to be solved and it sticks in your mind and you want to solve that problem, it may be unreasonable to some people, but you'll make it happen if you are unreasonable enough about it. And I mean, when people say to me, isn't saying you're going to get to gender parity by 2025 unreasonable? I say," Yes, it's unreasonable, but if you don't put a stake in the ground, you won't get anywhere." And maybe we won't hit the full 50% mark by 2025, but I guarantee you will get a lot further than if we hadn't put a stake in the ground. Be unreasonable.

Scott D. Clary: I'm going to do some rapid fire just to pull some last insights from your career. Before we do that, if somebody reads this book, what do you want them to take away from it? What's the main lesson, the most important thing they'll take away from it?

Gloria Feldt: I want them to take away the power of their own intentioning and to understand they have that power and to learn the, I call it the VCA method of intentioning. Vision, courage, and action. Those are the three parts.

Scott D. Clary: Good. And then if people do want to get the book or connect with you, where should they go? Website, social, anything like that.

Gloria Feldt: You can get the book any place that you'll like to buy your books, but I hope you will go to my website, gloriafeldt. com, F- E- L- D- T, dotcom, and go to the forward slash intentioning page. And there you will find a downloadable workbook that you can get that will go along with the book and will help you actually utilize all of these tools in the book more efficiently.

Scott D. Clary: So it's Gloria Feldt with a DT.

Gloria Feldt: Yes. Gloria Feldt, G- L- O- R- I- A, like the song, F- E- L- D- T, dotcom forward slash intentioning. Or just go to gloriafeldt. com and you'll find all of it. And also, Take the Lead, taketheleadwomen. com. You can find out the training, coaching, role model programs, and thought leadership that we can provide to you as an individual or to your company. I am @ gloriafeldt on all social media, so I'm easy to find and love to interact. I'm on social media way too much, so feel free. Contact me there. Connect. I love it.

Scott D. Clary: All right. Good. Good. All right, I'll do a couple rapid fire. The biggest challenge that you've had in your personal or professional life, what was that and how'd you overcome it?

Gloria Feldt: The biggest challenge I've had in my professional life is that when I left a 30 year career, I didn't know who I was. I realized at that point that I had given everything, including my identity, to a cause and to an organization that I believed in, but I hadn't nurtured myself. And I had to literally rethink myself. That was a huge career challenge. I had been doing what everybody else needed me to do. Hadn't taken care of Gloria.

Scott D. Clary: If you had to choose one person, obviously there's been many people who have been influential or impactful in your life, who was that person and what did they teach you?

Gloria Feldt: I give the credit to my father, who was way ahead of his time. He told me from the minute I could hear him, you can do anything your pretty little head desires. And he made sure to use the female pronoun when he would tell me things like she who asks gets, or these little bits of advice your daddy gives you as you're a kid. I didn't realize until I was grown how important that was. I could always see myself in that picture.

Scott D. Clary: That's good. If you could recommend a book or podcast or Audible or something that you've read, what would it be?

Gloria Feldt: Oh, there are so many, and I do listen to a lot of books, so I definitely have a lot from Audible. One of the most powerful books I have read lately is called... Or listened to, because the authors voice is so beautiful and he recorded it himself, so it's doubly wonderful. It's called My Grandmother's Hands, and it's very instructive about how racial and other kinds of trauma affect us, not just intellectually, but also in our bodies, and how to identify that and how to heal from it. It's a very powerful book. My Grandmother's Hands.

Scott D. Clary: If you could tell your 20- year- old self one thing, what would it be?

Gloria Feldt: Be more intentional. I would've learned to be intentioning much earlier in life.

Scott D. Clary: That's fair. That's fair. That's good. Okay. And last question, what does success mean to you?

Gloria Feldt: To me, success is enabling people to be successful. That's success to me. Yes. I would just boil down to that. If what I do helps somebody else to be successful in their own life, then I have been a success.

Speaker 6: I'm Amira Rose Davis, historian and co- host of the sports podcast, Burn It All Down. And now I'm hosting the new season of American Prodigies, all about black girls in gymnastics. For the last 40 years, black gymnasts have moved from the margins to the core of the sport and changed gymnastics along the way. Now, they tell their stories. You'll meet trailblazers like Diane Durham, superstars like Jordan Chiles, and everyone in between. Listen to American Prodigies on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.


Gloria Feldt is a New York Times best-selling author, speaker, commentator, and feminist leader who has gained national recognition as a social and political advocate of women's rights. In 2013, she co-founded Take The Lead, a nonprofit initiative with a goal to propel women to leadership parity by 2025. 

She is a former CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, directing the organization from 1996 to 2005. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, Time, NBC, Fast Company, Vanity Fair, and much more.

Today's Host

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Scott D. Clary


Today's Guests

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Gloria Feldt

|Leadership Speaker, Author, CEO, & Co-Founder of Take the Lead