Today’s change-maker is Alaina Shearer. Alaina is the founder and original member of Women in Digital, a nationwide organization with 1,500 members in 19 cities attracting over 10,000 women to their events. With an extensive background in digital marketing and advertising; and inspiring, educating and empowering women each day she serves as a catalyst for today’s conversation: how to share and find your own voice. Tune in below!
Alaina believes that a “spark” is in all of us. It doesn’t always have to apply to starting a new project or side-hustle, it could be applied to your day job (1:40).
“Chase the spark. Be patient with yourself. Give yourself grace.” - Alaina’s advice when starting your own business (3:30).
If you are overcome by the what ifs, you may never do it. If you follow the what ifs and the fears then you usually find out there was not that much to fear in the first place (4:25).
Alaina started her own agency, Cement, through careful planning and plotting. Before she left she saved 3 months of her salary and gave 3 weeks’ notice. That said, if your workplace is toxic, consider leaving immediately. If you start your own business you have to be prepared to change your lifestyle (6:40).
Alaina has been her own boss now for 10 years (8:45).
When asked about what inspired her to start Women in Digital, Alaina replies that it was an accident. There was a moment and awakening where she brought a man into a business meeting and it was astonishing to her because the men she was pitching to was looking to him to see if he was agreeing with her. She realized that gender discrimination and sexism was costing her an immense amount of money over the lifetime of her career (9:40).
In June 2016, she called for the first Women in Digital meeting in Columbus, Ohio and more than 115 women signed up. At that first meeting she was terrified to tell her stories of gender discrimination aloud (12:45).
After she finished telling her story at the first meeting and women connected with her story, Women in Digital was born (14:25).
Each Women in Digital member upon signing up for the organization is expected to “Ask and Give”: ask for 12 favors a year and give 12 favors a year (16:00).
The “Ask and Give” rule allows women to share their power (16:45).
We all have power. Alaina wants you to focus on finding YOUR power. What do we have sitting inside of us that we’re not using. It’s a flip of a switch in your mind and it changes everything (18:00).
The power comes from each other and that’s where the empowerment stems from (20:30).
When asked about “finding your voice” Alaina believes that it is very focused on “what” it is that you are saying and articulating it with strength especially in the workplace (22:45).
Trying to find your voice? Change the narrative in your head. Focus on the outcome of what you have to gain if you do speak instead of focusing on yours fears. Ask yourself what you would do at your wisest and your most powerful and have her takeover the meeting. Fake it until you become her (27:00).
Whether you are in the workplace, with friends or at home, more than ever complicated and controversial conversations surround us. Today on Brava I am honored to have Laura Freedman. Laura is a public speaker and financial advisor. Prior to her role as a financial and investment advisor, she was a Senior Human Resource Executive for a Fortune 500 company and an Executive Consultant. Laura brings over 25 years of experience advising leaders on business strategy and mitigating risk. Tune in to listen to our conversation below!
Laura has always been an early riser and I’ve always admired her self-discipline (1:12).
She describes her career transition as a “dual-professional citizenship” because she spent her first half of her career in people strategy and then crossed-over to finance and investing. Now she finds that she is integrating both as a financial advisor as she specializes in executive transitions (1:50).
It was when she was receiving her Executive MBA that she became fascinated by finance and how to make optimal decisions in the face of uncertainty (2:40).
When asked about the value of her MBA…
Upon completing her MBA, Laura’s daughter shared with her “Thank you. Now I know that I can do absolutely anything.” Laura encourages listeners to not lose sight of the positive ripple affect on the people who are closest to you (5:05).
Laura believes that creating change requires collaboration with individuals who hold opposing views. When asked how this is possible, Laura shares that it’s cultivating humility and continuous learning in the conversation (6:12).
She shares that "words can get in the way”. Rather than stating that there is an apparent issue (for instance unconscious bias) she speaks to the importance of instead defining the specific behaviors or observations (9:43).
“What are your observations? What led you to this conclusion?” Laura talks to the importance of making someone’s thought-process transparent to lessen judgement (14:30).
Humility and learning is just the start to mitigating and reducing tension but finding (and using) your voice is part of the equation too to influence the change that you want (16:50).
On “Finding your Voice” Laura believes that clarity leads to strength in conversations (20:00).
Laura is currently launching the Pittsburgh Women’s Alliance, the result of dynamic women that represent women professional groups, non-profits, and more that are coming together to help women advance and thrive. With the launch comes a free site with a master calendar so that women can help find impactful events happening in Pittsburgh. Check it out here: https://pghwomensalliance.org (24:00).
Ready to make change in your own backyard? Laura shares that it doesn’t have to be big to be a meaningful difference. Starting the conversation and bringing women together are the first steps. (26:30).
Want to keep listening? See our latest episode show notes here.
Hi my name is Stephanie and I want to welcome you to the Brava Podcast. I’m so thrilled to have you here! I can’t wait for you to hear from the amazing women highlighted in each episode.
The Brava Podcast serves as a catalyst of discovery and inspiration for you, the leading lady, so you can advance your own passions, generate sustainable change, and hopefully make a difference in your community no matter how big or small.
So, let’s break it down. We all know the word Bravo…but Brava, what’s up with that? When I visited my family in Greece they exclaimed “Brava” Instead of Bravo and it resonated with me. It’s the feminine version of Bravo. The direct translation is “to applaud women.” And that is exactly what this Podcast is set out to do.
Each episode will feature at least one inspiring woman who is making a difference in her field and has a story to share. We’ll cover everything from careers and philosophies to wellness and finance.
That is the foundation of the Brava Podcast. It is to celebrate women and our accomplishments, normalize the success of women, and advance women through a community of our contemporaries.
I know I mentioned the amazing women we’re going to hear from on this podcast but they aren’t the only people I want to hear from, I want to hear what YOU want.
Talk soon and so happy to have you join the conversation. You go girl!