STB 025 | Susan Eick

Being More Open and Authentic with Your Team with Susan Eick

Susan Eick thought she had to act like a man in order to get invited into the corporate boy’s club, but it wasn’t working! The harder she tried, the fewer things she got invited to, and to top it off, it was exhausting! Why pretend to be something you’re not? Susan has learned over the years that being your authentic self is the best way to lead and have people respect and admire you. Both women and men have natural talents and we should leverage them, not try to act like each other.

Being More Open and Authentic with Your Team with Susan Eick

Hello, beautiful lady, when am I not excited? I mean I don’t even know what to say anymore except that I get the opportunity to chat with some amazing women and they all have their unique perspectives and Ideas and I love, love, love that they bring their vulnerability and stories forward for you and for me.

Today you’re going to hear a conversation with Susan Eick. She has more than 25 years, I think we did the math in the conversation, of business strategy, marketing and executive development experience in financial services, technology and nonprofit sectors. Her specific client capabilities include strategic planning, leadership development, team alignment, aligning business priorities and assessing organizational impact of change. Prior to joining the Refinery, where she is the CEO, Susan was a Vice President at Wright Management, where she, I would say prided at herself in translating organizational goals for transformation into manageable opportunities for individual on team development. She also managed her own consulting agency in British Columbia, that is Canada ladies, working primarily with technology executives who were experiencing the need to rapidly shift their organizations. She spent most of her career in the US financial services industry, leading national marketing and sales teams in, again, technology, launching new products to international markets and in the nonprofit sector, developing resources for educational expansion and endowments. Whew. Yes, a very rich professional history and a very, very vulnerable leader. You’re going to hear from the beautiful Miss Susan Eick, so let’s not delay.

Of course, I have my 2 cents and I’m going to insert it here for you. I always love to tease out when I listen back and I do listen back, these are not one and done. I spend a lot of time on these interviews and I listen back and I really start to be able to tease out some maybe, you know, themes or thoughts that could easily get just glassed over if you’re just listening to it once because it might be a sentence or two. But that’s where the power is. The power is in one tiny idea that can make a huge, huge shift for you. And you know, every conversation I’m having right now cannot skip over the fact that we are in a major crisis and how that is impacting organizations and leadership. And so of course, we talk about that and what I love, love, love that Susan says in here is, leadership is a people game.

You’ll hear the conversation around how we’ve gotten away from that and how we’re moving back towards that and the risk for you as a leader of glassing over that by becoming in a hurry to get things back to normal. That there is a level of importance around keeping the intimacy that is being elevated right now, around human connection and leaders with their teams. So there is a wide conversation on this, but what I love is we really take a bit of a shift and start digging into Susan’s personal journey and you’re going to hear a very powerful leader share very vulnerable stories about when she first stepped into her role at Refinery and the journey she had with her team. I think it’s extremely, extremely powerful and insightful and honestly inspirational because where we end this conversation is around the importance of being yourself, giving permission to your yourself, one, but to your team to bring all of you to work. And how do I say this? There’s a piece of this. You know what? I’m not going to say it actually, I’m going to tease you a little bit and come back to it at the end. There’s one piece of it that I really want to make sure lands for you. So we’ll chat about that. We wrap up for today. But now let’s hear from Miss Susan.

One of the things stood out that you said you were talking about the light at the end of the tunnel and that some of the leaders that you’re engaging with feel a comfort in knowing that things will be different. What does that mean? That stood out.

I think that people that I’ve talked to, and I’m talking to, you know, CEOs as well as, you know, frontline leaders, they realized that their lives before their public lives, as well as their private lives, were frenetic. You know, constantly going to meetings, constantly getting their kids somewhere, not being able to spend meaningful time just having good thought about anything. And, despite the fact, I was thinking, you know, maybe more of the leaders that I talked to who are introverts, we’re comfortable in not having to be out and about and doing stuff and interacting personally with people.

But it’s not true. Even the bonafide extroverts are kind of looking at this as saying, you know, I’ve never really spent the time to put any thought into the emails that I was writing or to do the reading that I really should have been doing. Or to have the conversations with people outside of my immediate work circle to get their opinions on things. And this has forced people to take a step back and take time because their calendars aren’t as full. I mean, yeah, we have zoom meetings, but there’s time in between where they’re not running from meeting to meeting. They’re not on airplanes, they’re not commuting, that they can actually use that time to do something beneficial for themselves. And that, in turn, investing time in themselves and giving themselves time and space to think is making them better leaders.

It’s always an inside out game, but no one was taking a pause to think about that. They talk about it and write about it. There’s books on it, but nobody’s actually doing it.

Right, exactly. And, yeah, you know, the conversations I’m having with clients right now, it really is check-in, you know, it’s just kind of a how are you doing? How are things going with your family, with your work folks. And, the conversations are a lot deeper than they were in the past because again, everybody was on this frenetic pace where they were just kind of like, okay, I’ve got five minutes to talk. What do you want? And I’m talking about like clients I’ve known for years who are good friends and everything, but no one had time to have any deep conversations.

And I think what they’re reminded, what they’ve been reminded of in this process, that leadership is a people game. And I think we’ve forgotten that. We think in the past a lot of people have thought leadership is title. It’s entitlement. It’s status, it’s bigger budgets to manage and people kind of get down, push down to, Oh yeah, that’s right. I’ve got to maintain this relationship with people. And that’s something that’s come out and in all of their work lives now is just reminding that, yeah, I’ve got it. I’ve got to connect with people. Even if I don’t have anything new to say, I still got to communicate with them because they’re fearful and I’ve got to help them.

Yeah. Are you seeing a spectrum, cause I can think of a couple organizations that it seems like it’s not going this way. It’s a lot more meetings and it’s a lot longer hours. Have you seen this divide?

Yeah. So it depends also on, Refinery my  company, works with a lot of mining companies and resource companies that are global. So what I am finding is that the time that the executives used to spend on planes traveling to having face to face meetings are now spent on zoom in the middle of the night to be able to work with people in their time zones. So, in that case, yeah, the hours are longer for them. And it does become more difficult. But I think Zoom or WebEx and whatever mode that you use for video conference calls. I mean, before, people use them with some anxiety and we had clients that, you know, just didn’t want to turn on the video camera for chats, which that was really interesting. And now it’s like, if you don’t turn on your video camera, it’s weird. We don’t know if you’re really listening. But, I think there is definitely becoming a tiredness about the video conferencing and people going from zoom meeting to zoom meeting because they have space on their calendars. So we are finding that people are getting this sense of just exhaustion. Not because of the necessarily their hours are longer, but because they don’t give themselves a break. You know, when you do an in-person meeting, you at least allow yourselves in between, in person meetings to get up, go to the washroom, get a cup of coffee and then maybe be two minutes late to the meeting. For zoom calls, there’s this anxiety around, Oh my God, you know, I’m running late. And you know, people are waiting for me. So rather than jumping on and remembering the humanity of everybody and saying, guys, I haven’t had a break in three hours. My bladder is about to burst. You know, they’ll just keep going and they don’t cut themselves breaks at all.

Yeah. It’s also an odd thing to feel like you always have to be looking into the camera because if we’re in person, we don’t do that. We’ll look around, we’ll look down, we’ll take notes. But there’s something about feeling like you have to be like, they know I’m present, I’m looking at them. And then seeing yourself, too.

Yeah. And I’ve noticed, it’s funny because you had put out a really good piece a few weeks ago about just tips for like really good tips for being on zoom meetings. But I appreciated, especially because I’m like, yeah, I didn’t really ever think about sometimes, you know, you wake up and you’re like, I don’t really need to get dressed for this meeting. Do I don’t need to put on makeup. Yeah, you do.

You know, I just learned over time that people are watching so much more closely. Like I’ve never had people comment on anything about what I wear, how I look more than the last five years.

Gotcha. That’s funny. I know. Yeah, it’s so true. But, I think that Zoom will continue to evolve. I mean, we’re, and you know, because my company does so much in-person development with leaders, you know, the experiential full body learning. We’re facing this challenge right now of realizing, well, what if we’re not able to bring people together. For you know, months and how are we going to touch them? How are we going to enrich them? How are we going to give them what they need? And so we are developing a more virtual approach to experiential learnership leadership that uses zoom, for sure, but only as a tool, as one tool that we have in our entire arsenal. So, it’s not webinars. It’s not, you know, just watching videos or listening to a lecture.

It is, you know, literally being tactile, giving people assignments to do with their hands while they’re on Zoom, doing breakout sessions with people, doing whiteboarding and that’s the kind of stuff we need to do more of. And I don’t think that’s ever going to go away. I think there’s going to be increased requests from people to want to be able to provide this type of learning to their staff because, you know, it’s just not going to be possible to bring it people together back in big groups again. At least not for awhile.

I feel like I heard excitement though about this from you, like in your voice. Like it’s exciting to be able to innovate.

Yeah. So that’s an interesting observation and I think one of the things that has come out in the last few months as I’ve been talking to leaders is there’s so many organizations that we work with that are not known for innovation.

Mining is kind of an old school legacy business, right?

Yeah. It’s known for that. But you’d be amazed and shocked at how much innovation happens within the mining industry. They just don’t always get recognized for it. But what’s interesting is that the leaders I’m talking to have all said, you know, we’ve been forced to innovate like overnight. It’s not like we had time to develop a think tank and get people away and do some skunkworks work behind a closed door for months and provide them with an R&D budget and then go through the red tape of a seven stage gate product development process. It is literally, we have this need, we need to act on it now and we don’t have a budget, so how are we going to figure out how to do this at no cost. And that’s, you can tell when people are talking about this, they’re so proud about the fact that they were able to do this.

And they, you know, talking to a guy, I’m working for a government organization, and he said if you would’ve asked me a year ago if we would have 100% of our staff in 16 different regional offices fully working from home, I would have said, you’re crazy. There’s no way we could do it. There would have been so much red tape to go through because they’re government, there’s so many privacy policies and it just wouldn’t have happened. They figured out it within a week and how to get this done. And he said, I don’t know that we’re going to go back to where we were because why would we? Everyone’s happier working from home. There’s more flexibility. The engagement is higher and our clients are actually quite happy with the work that we’re providing them. So why not? Right.

I love that. It’s almost like they were pushed to be a little bit of a start-up. Right. And they didn’t think they had it in them.

Exactly. And same with our organization. I mean, Refinery has been around for 18 years now and really centered. Our core work is doing this in-person, experiential leadership development work and in the past, and even before I joined the organization, they were dabbling with the idea of maybe we should get into e-learning or maybe we should do more off the shelf programs or maybe we should figure out how to do delivery virtually. And it was always kind of pushed aside because it’s like, Oh, that’s not us. We didn’t find a way that we could really represent the weirdness and the coolness and the stuff that we do in a virtual way. Well, fast forward to just a couple of months ago and my leadership team was sitting around and like, shit, we got to figure this out sooner than later. And we’ve got a group of folks together, you know, more people. And they put together and developed a three-module leadership program that we’re delivering virtually now. And it already is going into pilot phase like right now as we speak. And, it’s pretty freaking amazing what they were able to put together and the feedback we’ve already had from the beta test is pretty incredible. So we wouldn’t have done that. We probably wouldn’t have done that this soon had we not had the COVID crisis.

So, this lens to just kind of the differences between, you know, being in the US and Canada, how does that affected your leadership style?

Well, that’s a great question. I think one of the things that I recognized when I first came to Canada, and I wasn’t in a leadership position, I was still with a US based company then, was that I was having too much expectation that’s a Canadian culture was not moving fast enough. It was, you know, people weren’t moving fast enough. They didn’t have the same amount of, I guess passion or just incentive to want to get to the finish line first. And that really bothered me. And then I kind of settled into and started just talking to people and realizing that, you know, Canada has a different history obviously than the US. The US has always been about wanting to be first in the world and being the best and having the veneer of the best country in the world and the most innovative and most self-sufficient. And we don’t need anybody else. Canada’s always been a country that, yeah, they’re independent, but they’ve never said, we don’t need help. We don’t need allies. We have 1/10th of the population of the US, so of course we’re going to need help if something really bad would happen. But we’ve got really strong allies, too. And, I know this sounds controversial, but when people ask me, I still have family members who say, last week, why in the heck did you move to Canada? I said, well, for one, it’s nice to live in a country where 9/10ths of the world’s population doesn’t want to drop a bomb on you because you pissed them off.

And, we’ve got tighter gun law restrictions, which was a big incentive for me to move my kids here. And, it’s just a different environment. It’s a friendlier environment. Don’t get me wrong, we still have a ton of innovation. Obviously. We’ve got amazing things going on within the tech industry and resources and governments that is being really innovative right now. But it has allowed me to soften a little bit. I’m a natural driver and I know you can relate to this. Just kind of balls to the walls full on. Let’s move. Let’s move it through. You know, the whole thing about being a high achiever and feeling like you’re a loser if you’re not winning constantly. That’s had to take a back seat for me because it is more about a community here and how do we help each other as opposed to who’s going to be first to the finish line.

Yeah. I spent a lot of time actually working in Canada and I remember those relationships. It always be like, slow down Michelle, let’s relax, let’s chat it up. Let’s have a nice dinner. We’ll talk business maybe tomorrow. Versus New York. It’s like get in and get out. I relate to that.

Well and it’s, it’s hard. I mean it’s easier to generalize Canada as well, every province is different and obviously the East coast, Toronto, is much more like New York I think in that regard. Then, the West coast has this reputation of being, I think still a bunch of hippies who smoke weed and go surfing on their lunch breaks. Which, to a certain extent, there’s definitely that culture here, but it’s still business oriented for sure.

Yeah. Now, I want to switch gears. I didn’t know we were going to talk so much about that, but it really is fascinating and having spent a lot of time up there. It’s interesting to hear your perspective. I want to talk more about leadership and what you believe is going to be the risk for the modern leader as things do shift and kind of come back to a new balance, whatever that looks like.

So, in terms of risks for leaders, I don’t think it’s going to be any different, personal risks, than it was pre-COVID, because we’re still encountering the same issues. They’ve just been amplified as a result of this crisis. Leaders who were struggling with intimacy, with authenticity, with their employee or employees are still struggling with those things right now, even more so because their employees, their staff, their team members are asking for more support or human connection. And if they’re not able to give it, they’re going to lose people.

The other risk I go back to again, just your ability to innovate quickly and respond to needs before they become so overwhelming that you can’t address the problem quickly enough.

And I guess the other risk I see moving forward is there’s this pent-up demand for getting things back to normal as quickly as possible. And I think leaders have a risk of forgetting, or putting aside what got them through COVID, which was frequent communication with their staff. You know, making sure they check in with people just to see how they’re doing. Bringing the humanity out in themselves, acknowledging the fact that they have fears and that’s what connects people, right? I mean, whether you’re a fan of Brene Brown or not, there’s something to being authentic and open with your team. If you’re not, they can see that and they’re not going to trust you. So, it’s really difficult to get from point A to point B when the space in between those two points are full of mountainous, treacherous terrain. If you don’t have a trusting team.

I think I just want to give some space to what you said around the intimacy area and that’s definitely being reflected right now. And then, you tied it to getting back to normal and not forgetting those pieces. Because it’s going to awaken something in people to start to be able to receive that from the leadership if they hadn’t before or if they’re getting it in a much bigger way. That requires time from the leadership.

Yeah. I’ll tell you a story. In 2000 I joined Refinery back in 2017 and my first all employee retreat, I actually wanted to cancel it quite frankly, cause it was two months after I had started. The company was not doing great at the time and I thought, well, we just can’t afford this. We can’t afford the time. We can’t afford the money of doing this. And we were flying people in from different places in the world to attend this. But we ended up going forward with it. And I approached that executive retreat with my very old school way of thinking about leadership, the way I’ve always led, which is, you got an agenda, you’ve got deliverables. Here’s what we’re going to do day one, day two, day three, we’re going to end up with this thing at the end, everybody works hard. You know, we’ll have some drinks afterwards, but it really is the focus is the business. And we did that and it was okay. But, I didn’t really get to know anybody at that first retreat. I remember coming out of that feeling like, I don’t know if that went well or not because I don’t feel like I know anything more about my team. They probably have this view of me as being this hard-driving bitch, who joined their company and I wonder how many of them are actually happy about being here.

Fast forward to the employee retreat we had just last year in October. And, we built our own talking stick and we created, an animal spirit guide out of clay for each other. And we went for silent walks in the woods. And between the first employee retreat and this one, we’ve become a solid, formidable company with amazing results, business results. Added amazing clients to our family of clients, developed programs and services and everybody really, I think what they’ve told me is they really actually liked working here. And they like our leadership team and they’re really happy. So that’s kind of cool.

It’s really cool. And what shifted between those two periods?


And what caused that shift within you?

I got hit in the face a few times by my senior leadership team, a couple of members in particular just said, you gotta stop, you got to open up, you got to figure out what makes us different. And the only way you’re going to do that is to start sharing of yourself, being authentic, being real. We expect that of our people who are part of our leadership development, and if we don’t, if we’re not emulating that ourselves, it’s really difficult to expect that of other people. So yeah, there were a few tears shed with my staff. There were a few and a lot of joyous moments as well, but they’ve seen the best and worst of me over the last three years. And same thing. I’ve seen the best and worst of them, as well.

I love this part. This is the part that I love the most is bringing your whole self, but it’s difficult. We put up these walls around parts of us and I’ve had some women that I’ve interviewed talk about personas in different aspects and I can really relate to that. So, how do you just allow that to start coming down? For your team and then they carry that with to your clients.

It was a big risk, right? Especially as women. One of the first blogs I wrote was around shutting the corporate armor. And it was based on just my years of working in the financial services industry and you know, growing up in the eighties when starting my professional career in their eighties when it was all about the power suit, right? And if you were going to succeed and look successful within business, you had to look like a guy, basically, and just no emotions and hardcore and you know, your armor was basically impenetrable.

And over the years, I had to keep that up because it was working in the financial services industry, as you know, it’s a lot of guys, middle-aged white guys who just know that’s their life. And I don’t think any of them purposely thought, let’s figure out how we can undermine Susan and her career.

But it was kind of like, you just don’t fit with our circle of people that we feel comfortable with. So we’re just not going to invite you to stuff and we’re going to exclude you. And no matter what I did to try to be more like them, it didn’t work. So at some point I just decided, why am I doing this? This is exhausting to keep this up. And what happened? What would happen if I stopped wearing the power suits and if I started just speaking more like myself as opposed to the corporate Susan? And what if a lot of people get to see my emotions, anger or sadness, everything. And what happened is that I actually started to get more traction with people and more followers because they realized, Oh, she’s actually human and I can relate to her, as opposed to someone who’s this kind of like power hungry, power suit wearing animal who just, it lives and breathes the work all the time.

And that trickles down, right? You show up that way, then your team relaxes into that and then they relax into that with the clients.

Yeah, absolutely. And, that’s exactly what – we talk about this in our workshops a lot with, talking with a lot of guys who grew up as engineers are in technical fields and we’re asking them to share themselves and you know, and they’re like, first day is like, you want me to do what? Excuse me. No. And by the end of the first day, it’s kind of like, okay, they get it. And we create a space for them that it’s safe. I mean, it’s not like we’re throwing them to the wolves and leaving them without any support. We create a space that they can be open and honest and truthful with each other and experience what it’s like to get in touch with their emotional side and actually leverage that to become a better leader. And that’s the stuff that lasts because they’re tapping into their genuine selves, which is much more lasting than this veneer that you have to put on every day that ends up being cracked and worn over time and it doesn’t fit you anymore.

And it’s exhausting.

It is exhausting. You’re not being yourself. Yeah.

And you wouldn’t be able to create that space for those engineering types if you didn’t lead first with all of you.

Yeah, we laugh about it, but, you know, the stuff, the magic that happens in the work that we do, it has to start with our facilitators and the type of people we have leading these workshops are not your typical corporate trainers by any means. I mean, these are people who have been there, done that, have the scars to prove it. Share of themselves, cry along with our participants. I think nine times out of 10 when we’re doing a really difficult or really difficult segment, there will be participants who end up crying. I am crying along with them. I can’t help it. I stopped apologizing for it. Like this is who I am. And wow, what you just said, what you shared with us is so amazing and so touching and genuine. I can’t stop the tears and like, that’s cool. That’s cool. Yeah, we’re all good. We’re all crying together. It’s awesome. And that’s where the growth happens. I mean, people get comfortable with each other after that.

Yeah. Because they’re just being themselves.

Yes. And giving them permission to be themselves because most workplaces don’t allow that. They don’t want that. They say they want the real, they want your best you. But what if your best you, it’s not something that is as beautiful and polished as what they’ve experienced in the past.

They don’t know what to do with that. And then the judges come out the judgers and all that and that still exists in places. So what needs to come out of you next?

More of this! Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, I talk about this quite a bit with my friends. I mean, I’m 55 I’m going to be 55 in a couple of weeks and I think when I look back at my career, I didn’t orchestrate this. I mean I never set out in 1985 when I started in the professional world thinking someday I’m going to be the CEO of a learning and development company in Canada. No, I just kept taking opportunities cause I thought, Oh, this seems like the interesting thing to do. I think I’ll do this. So maybe a little bit more money. That sounds good. I think what’s next for me is just trying to become, again, myself, a better leader and be there for my people through this really difficult time. Be the person that my clients and my friends and family can trust and be honest with. And to give them the straight shit as opposed to something that’s fabricated and maybe is what they want to hear. And beyond that, I think if I can get good at just being honest and real with people continue to perfect that, then you know, it’ll be good.

One of the things when I was listening to you is that almost every sentence, I’ll have to listen back to, was “just be”. So, there’s a theme somewhere in there around that for sure.

Yeah, I mean, I’m like the last person to say that I do mindfulness exercises every day. I mean, I’m lucky if I remember to do a mindfulness meditation like once a week, like sit down and actually observe, listen. And I will say, you know, if you can make time for yourself, and this is a commitment that I’ve put on myself as well. I’m one of these people, and I know you can relate to this. When I see my calendar for the week, my schedule, and if there’s white spots on it, blank spaces, I get anxious and I think I have to fill that with something. So my commitment to myself over the next 21 days, I’m trying to create a habit, is rather than when I see a white spot on my calendar, rather than immediately fill it with something, leave it open and use that time to just wander, to just let my mind wander, go outside and physically wander.

Just listen, ask people questions and just listen and play with my dog, whatever. And just to see, I don’t know what the outcomes are going to be, but I’m just going to see if what happens in that 21 days.

That reminds me of something I’m doing right now. Cause I noticed I hold my breath a lot. When I’m thinking or when I, in different sense. So I’m just trying to breathe three deep breaths, three times a day. It sounds so simple. It’s in the simplicity of these things. That’s the challenge. Right? You think there has to be something more to it than that and there’s not, right. Be yourself. Take time for you and according to me. Breathe.

Yes. Good, good advice.

Is there anything else on your heart that you want to share?

No, it’s been a humbling experience to be on this journey for the last, how many years is that? Let’s see. 85 to 2020. I don’t know. It’s a long time. 35 years. 35. It’s a humbling experience. And I look back at some of the things and I don’t believe in regrets. I don’t look back and regret anything. I think there’s definitely learnings I had and things I think, I guess I could have handled that differently, but I didn’t. And I ended up here because of that. My passion right now is just to wonder about how can I help others, especially other young women who are just entering their careers and to figure out how to manage themselves and manage the environments that they’re going into.

Especially my daughters, you know, they’re so much farther ahead where I was when I was, you know, 15, 14. They are so much more confident. So much more aware of the political universe and the global economy, as opposed to just what’s happening in front of them. When I was in high school, there was a very strong, it was all about how you looked and the clothes that you had and the material stuff. And they really care less about that stuff. I mean, they are perfectly happy with just sweat pants and hoodies to school everyday, no makeup. There was no makeup happening. Boys are part of the friend circle as opposed to this polarization of boys and girls and gender is a spectrum. And so, it’s just, we have much different conversations with them than I ever had with my parents.

Yeah. And in terms of their confidence is higher, but what about making time for them themselves? Do you see that in young women?

Yes. I do think that there is. Yeah. It’s interesting. You think about who do we have role models growing up for women in business. We just didn’t. Plus, most of the female executives, were also products of this environment of thinking we have to act like men in order to be successful. So I mean, looking at this top executive for when I worked for Bank One, which is now JP Morgan and thinking, Oh yeah, she’s got it all together. She’s got the polish, she’s got the suit, she’s got the short haircut. She talks very succinctly. And so that’s what I’ve got to be.

Those were our role models. That’s what we had to emulate. Now, I mean, the role models that these folks have, these girls have, I mean, this one woman from New Zealand. I mean, she cries, she makes great decisions. She’s considered one of the most powerful women in the world. And she’s real. I mean, I’m looking around and thinking about the health care workers and the the health ministers that we have in Canada, they’re all how powerful women, but they’re all genuine and real and caring. And that’s kind of cool when you think about it. They’ve realized that they can be themselves and be successful.

Something really struck me when you were talking, I’ve had this conversation with a few women as well who have daughters or just thinking about the younger women and they’re describing it just like you. And I almost think that that is part of the legacy, but I think a bigger part of the legacy I’m just playing with this right now is women like yourself. The impact you can make right now for the women who aren’t young, who did get exposed to that, who do want to open their heart in a wider way and let some of the walls down, that’s where the greatest impact can be because we still have plenty of time to be in the workforce. Plenty of time. A whole other career.

Yep. Oh, exactly. And it’s funny, I was just talking to one of my best friends. I was talking to over the weekend and she’s, I think she’s 56. She made the comment of, you know, she really wants to change careers and who’s going to hire me now? I mean, I’m 56 years old. And I’m like, Oh my God, seriously stop thinking that way. There are so many people who are looking for great talent and you know, especially talent and I don’t really consider us older, but you know, at this point in our careers we’ve got so much to offer and yeah, it’s interesting the limitations we put on ourselves just because of age still. I don’t want to get beyond that because there’s some amazing women who are working well into their eighties and nineties who have no intention of leaving the workforce because they’re inspired by what they do.

That’s another area! We don’t have time to go there. So we’re going to have to end here. But like that’s another area for you. I can just feel your heart like exploding around that.

Yeah. I’m pretty passionate about that. And more to come on that. I think we’re still writing the chapters of our lives, right?

Yeah. We’re still writing the chapters of my life. Thank you so much for being on the show.

Oh, my pleasure. It was fun.

All right, beautiful lady. I can’t wait to hear what golden nuggets you teased out of this interview with Susan. You know, I had the pleasure of working for Susan when I was still in corporate and it was so fun. One, to see her at the CEO seat, where she belongs, but two, to have the conversation around some of her personal journey and just her perspective looking back. So super fun for me.

Susan spends a lot of time on LinkedIn, so do I. So, I hope you pop on over there and find us and continue the conversation. Let us know what you teased out of the interview. But the one thing that I wanted to call out for you before we said farewell for today is that there’s something Susan said, and I’m really going to be thinking about this for a while. We were talking towards the end of the interview about the permission to be yourself and the fact that a lot of organizations and leaders even say they want you to be the best you, whether that’s part of their mission, their vision, their company mantras and how they communicate.

I’ll leave that open to interpretation for you, but they say they want you to be the best you, but what if the best you is not as beautiful and polished as they experienced in the past. I thought that was one, a beautiful way to express that and two, really the underlying theme of what we’re all thinking and feeling like, okay, you say you want all of me, but what if I show up today and I cry? You know, is that okay? So, every organization and every leader is on a different spectrum with regards to this. But I didn’t want you to miss it because I thought it was powerful. And I also believe it was beautifully said.

I will share the link to a couple more resources from Susan. I love the way she writes and the way she communicates at the Refinery and the content that they’re putting out. If you’re really resonating with her style and the conversation she’s having, I would say to go find some of those resources there, but you can find them in the show notes as well. Okay. Enough words out of me today. I can’t wait to hear from you. Please, please, please do find us over on LinkedIn and we will talk to you.

About Susan Eick

STB 025 | Susan Eick

Susan has more than 25 years of business strategy, marketing and executive development experience in the financial services, technology and non-profit sectors. Her specific client capabilities include strategic planning, leader development, team alignment , aligning business priorities and assessing organizational impact of change.

Prior to joining Refinery, Susan was a Vice President at Right Management for 4 years, where she prided herself in translating organizations’ goals for transformation into manageable opportunities for individual and team development. Susan also managed her own consultancy in British Columbia, working primarily with technology executives who were experiencing the need to rapidly shift their organizations. She spent most of her career in the US financial services industry leading national marketing and sales teams, in the technology sector, launching new products to international markets, and in the non-profit sector developing resources for educational expansion and endowments.

Early in her career, Susan was given positions of leadership for projects that required rapid strategic planning and consecutive implementation. She thrives helping others to adapt and work through change.

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