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110. Women Leaders Changing the World with Belinda Clemmensen

When Belinda Clemmensen discovers the business case for female leadership, she embarks on a journey to empower and support women to lead the change the world needs, facing the difficult reality of the misalignment between women leaders and the male-dominated world.

"If you care about profit and productivity, as most businesses do, great, there's benefits to have more women and more diversity in leadership. If you care about ethics, if you care about sustainability and the environment, if you care about society, health care, access to education...any of those indicators across the board, when we have more women in leadership, even if we're not 50 50, just increasing the number, even setting a goal to increase the number, makes all those things better."

Belinda Clemmensen is the founder of the Women's Leadership Intensive and the co-founder of Leader Coach Intensive. She has over 25 years of experience helping leaders step into their potential and connect to a place of purpose where their unique strengths make organizations and communities better. Her book, Women, Leadership & Saving the World: Why Everything Gets Better When Women Lead, explores the benefits of women in leadership and how to lead in healthy ways.

In this episode, you will learn the following:

  1. The Benefits of Women in Leadership: Discover why having more women and more diversity in leadership roles can benefit organizations in terms of profitability, ethics, sustainability, society, health care, and access to education.

  2. Protecting Yourself from Burnout: Why women are more prone to burnout and how establishing equity at home, surrounding yourself with a a community, having a deep purpose for your work, and creating a structure for reflection can help.

  3. What She Wishes She Knew as a New Leader: The importance and value of following your call as soon as possible in your leadership journey.

Resources shared:

About Belinda:

Carol Sanford
Belinda Clemmensen

Belinda Clemmensen, B.Sc., M.Ed., PCC is the

A change-maker herself, she believes women are not only capable of changing the world, but that we will be a driving force in making it happen. When we look out at the world, we see that change is needed and we can help. This passionate belief is what drives her as a leadership development professional and what led her to build the Women's Leadership Intensive; with their mission to inspire, empower, support, and equip women to lead the change the world needs.

Many women feel we don't fit the traditional leadership box. We know we have more to contribute, but it’s not always easy to reach that potential. As a leader, Belinda believes it is essential to know who you are and lead as YOU.

With over 25 years of experience she helps leaders step into their potential and connect to a place of purpose where their unique strengths can serve to make organizations and communities better.

In addition to founding WLI, Belinda is a proud co-founder of the Leader Coach Intensive, a unique program that builds world-class coaches – Tomorrow’s Leaders Today.


While it's not perfect, we offer this transcription by Capsho for those who prefer to read or who are hearing impaired.

Teri Schmidt 00:00:43 When I saw the title of our guests Belinda Clemmensen's book, I knew that I had to have her on the podcast. I mean, wouldn't you pick up a book titled Women, Leadership & Saving the World: Why Everything Gets Better When Women Lead? After all, at Stronger to Serve deserve coaching and team building. Our core client group is new and mid level women leaders who care about making their workplaces more compassionate and just. But we also know that overwhelm can get in the way of their impact. That's why our Leadership Coaching offers a trusted guide to help each woman face the barriers to impact that exist and help put her on an accelerated path to clarity, confidence and impact.

So I knew that Belinda and I would be aligned, but in reading her book, I got even more than I expected. The book is packed full of research that shows how our organizations and communities are better when more women lead, why women are particularly adept at the bridge building leadership that is sorely needed today, why we as women are prone to burnout and practical steps we can take to lead in healthy ways so that the world can benefit and our daughters don't have to face the same barriers we do on their journey to share their unique gifts with the world.

Teri Schmidt 00:02:09 Belinda is the founder of the Women's Leadership Intensive. And the co founder of Leader Coach Intensive. She believes that women are not only capable of changing the world, but that we will be the driving force in making it happen. She also believes, as you know, I do, that as a leader, it is essential to know who you are and lead as you. She has over 25 years of experience helping leaders step into their potential and connect to a place of purpose where their unique strengths make organizations and communities better. So if you want to be inspired and gain practical tips for how to help lead the change our world needs, enjoy our conversation. I'm Teri Schmidt, founder of Stronger to Serve Coaching and Team Building, and this is Stronger Leaders Serve.

Teri Schmidt 00:03:18 Welcome Belinda to the Strong Leaders Serve podcast. I'm really looking forward to our conversation today.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:03:26 Me too. Thanks for having me.

Teri Schmidt 00:03:28 I would love to have you just introduce yourself, tell us how you lead today and tell us a little bit about your journey to that point.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:03:36 Sure. So I'm Belinda Clemmensen and I run a company called the Women's Leadership Intensive and our mission is to inspire, empower, support and equip women to lead the change the world needs. So leadership is what we do every day, all day. I've been doing leadership development my whole career and got very interested in it sort of early on. Did a lot of outdoor leadership stuff early in my career and then shifted focus a little bit more to organizations and corporations. Loved that work, love working with people. I believe leadership culture, so leadership matters so much. But about eight ish years ago, I started having a bit of a crisis of consciousness in the work that I was doing and kind of felt like I was supporting leaders to lead in systems that I did not fully believe in. And I also could no longer ignore the inequalities and inequities that I was seeing in the organizations I was working with. So I started to ask myself some hard questions and wonder if maybe I was in the wrong career or was I doing with my life what I wanted to and what meaningful and really honestly struggled with that for a good few years. I didn't arrive at an easy answer. I stayed in the discomfort for quite some time trying to figure it out. I still had bills to pay and continue to work. It's not like I just stepped out. I just kept doing the work, paying attention to it and trying to figure out what feels like next right action for me. And that is sort of when I shifted into going back a bit to my feminist roots and to my work with women in leadership in the past and started to dig into, well, how are we doing as women in leadership today? And through that research really discovered we're not doing that great in terms of our numbers, neither in the US nor in Canada nor globally. And besides not doing that great, there was all this research that had been done that was showing the benefits of women in leadership and I just couldn't reconcile those two things. It's like, well, the business case is bomb proof for diversity and women in leadership, so why are our numbers so bad? And so that's kind of what pushed me into doing this work around supporting women in leadership, particularly to try to move the needle on those numbers, but also try to support women to show up as the leaders they truly want to be, not just what they've seen done before. Which of course it's the male model.

Teri Schmidt 00:06:20 Exactly. We've done several episodes where we've talked about, for example, we did one on leadership presence. And for some people what that means is you basically show up like a man, right? You project your voice, you dress perhaps in a suit. And I love what you said about women being able to show up who they are as leaders.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:06:45 That's the change we need, right? We don't need more of the same, at least not in my opinion. I think we need the true diversity of perspective and we need to make space for it.

Teri Schmidt 00:06:54 Yes, wholeheartedly agree. So let's talk a little bit about that because you have a new book out, women Leadership and Saving the World. And I just love the subtitle why Everything Gets Better when Women lead. But I would love to hear what was behind that.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:07:12 Yeah, I really avoided the title for a while. It felt like such a provocative title that I was like, do I want to go here? But I couldn't not. So there it is. But yeah, again, having done the review of the research and seeing all the benefits of women in leadership and diversity and leadership, everything from if you care about profit and productivity, as most businesses do great, there's benefits to have more women and more diversity and leadership. If you care about that, you'll get better results. Right? If you care about ethics, if you care about sustainability in the environment, if you care about society health care, access to education like any of those indicators across the board, it just became so clear to me that when we have more women in leadership. Even if we're not at Parity, like, even if we're not 50 50, just increasing the number, even setting a goal to increase the number makes all those things better.

Teri Schmidt 00:08:21 Interesting. Tell me about that, even setting the goal, because I know your book is full of so much interesting and relevant data and I know you probably can't go through it all, but I'd love to hear are there examples of research where even just setting the goal makes the change?

Belinda Clemmensen 00:08:38 Yeah, so there's an example that's not in the book, but it's a mining company and I do a fair bit of work in traditionally male dominated industries. Women there need a lot of support. They're usually laggards in terms of their quality and equity numbers, so they definitely need work. So pulling from that industry and mining, there's a mining organization that just set a target to try to get to gender parity by 2030. That was the target they set. Very unusual in that industry, very sort of aggressive target. They're not there, they're working towards it. But even just setting that goal and starting to work towards it, they've seen increases in productivity, they've seen Stronger to Serve teamwork on their operational shifts, and they've seen an improvement in their safety numbers. So there's three in mining. Those are huge. Right. Efficiency, huge productivity. If just setting the target can move the needle significantly on those three things even before you get there.

Teri Schmidt 00:09:37 Right?

Belinda Clemmensen 00:09:38 Yeah. I think that's just a really illustrative example of how much of a difference this can make.

Teri Schmidt 00:09:43 Yeah, I agree. And what is it? I can kind of see the safety impact. I can kind of see the team cohesiveness. What is it about productivity? So how does having women in leadership benefit productivity?

Belinda Clemmensen 00:10:02 It's an interesting question and this is a theory of mine. I'm not sure if this is accurate or not, but I sort of feel like women are used to living in a multi stakeholder world, right? We have jobs, we have caregiving responsibilities, we have households, some of us have kids, some of us have aging parents or other people in our lives that are ill. We have communities that we support, we have friend groups. So we have volunteer work. We've got all of these multiple stakeholders. We really live in this kind of spherical or 360 degree kind of way and we're used to seeing the world like that. And I think when we bring that skill set into the workplace, which today more and more, I think demands a multi stakeholder view, then we're bringing a really important toolkit to the table. Because it used to be that you could say the purpose of a corporation is to deliver shareholder return, right? We have one stakeholder and that's our shareholder. That's not the case in 2023, right?

Teri Schmidt 00:11:13 Because definitely not.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:11:14 We've got public opinion, we've got the environment, we've got these and potential employees of the future. We've got society, we've got communities. Like, there's so many stakeholders that have always been there, but now we're starting to recognize the importance of them and they are starting to have more of a voice demanding more from organizations than in the past.

Teri Schmidt 00:11:41 Yeah, that's so true. And I know it's just your theory, but it makes a lot of sense to me and I'm sure there will likely be some research at some point that backs up that theory. Well, you just talked about how different it is today in the environment that we operate in today. And I know you talked in your book about Ellen Duffield's book and her term bridge building leaders and you mentioned that that's something that women are particularly skilled at being. I'm curious, why do you think that type of leadership is so important in our world today?

Belinda Clemmensen 00:12:18 I think it does come back to this idea of really acknowledging all of the stakeholders in a business and sustainability and the environment is a great example here. Every organization has a footprint, right? We all consume resources, we all dispose of waste, we all potentially produce products or services or whatever they might be. And I don't know that in the past we would have thought that much about that impact, whereas today you're seeing things like chief sustainability officers more and more in organizations. And so I think the ability to build a bridge between your organization and some of these stakeholders that have always been there but have in the past maybe not been invited to participate or have been ignored or excluded. So how do we build a bridge between the organization and the communities in which we operate a bridge between our resource consumption and disposal and a sustainable environment in our jurisdiction? How do we build a bridge between our organization and our employees? Right. Because, again, the employee base is changing significantly as well. And so I think the kind of old way of thinking or the old way of running companies is just not going to be appealing to new generations coming in. If you were to say to them, our mission statement is to make profit and deliver shareholder return, what young person do you know who's on board with that? Not many. For organizations to survive, they need to also be profitable. And we put profit as paramount. And I just don't think it is. Right. There are other things that are also important that need our consideration and our investment.

Teri Schmidt 00:14:15 Agreed. And those other things can help organizations to be more profitable at the same time.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:14:21 Yeah, it's a rethink, really. Right. It's going from I think the old way of thinking about it is if we consider the environment, sustainability, community, et cetera, then it will mean we'll be less profitable. I don't think that's a direct translation. I don't think that's true. I think it's a rethink about how do we engage in all of those win win situations to be at least as successful, if not more.

Teri Schmidt 00:14:47 And that gets back to what you were talking about a little while ago about women and our ability to operate multi stakeholder environments and to lead in those multi stakeholder environments. And that being an advantage.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:15:01 Sure. And often, too, I think women understand firsthand the importance of investing in people and in community. And so whether that's nature or nurture, I don't know. And at a certain point, I kind of don't care because I think it's necessary work. Right. As a leader, I always say, like 50% of your job is your functional area. So great. If you're a finance person or if you're an operations person, that's great. That's half your job. Once you get a leadership role, the other half is people. We should be investing as much in that skill set as we do in the other.

Teri Schmidt 00:15:39 Right. And people as human beings, not people as resources.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:15:45 Exactly. The real work. Right. The real work of working with people.

Teri Schmidt 00:15:49 That gets to another question that I wanted to ask you. You've worked with many different women through their leadership journeys. How have their journeys differed from, say, a male's leadership journey in general?

Belinda Clemmensen 00:16:05 Gosh there's a lot of answers to this question. This is essentially why our organization exists, because the journey is so different. I think one thing is voice. I think still to this day, the higher up you go in most organizations or systems, the fewer women you're going to find. And so women get used to potentially being the only person, the only woman in the room or one of very few women in the room. And that requires a lot of extra work. And it also means that our voices are just not going to be heard in the same way or as much. They're also very concrete examples of women physically speaking and not being heard right. Or physically saying something in a room and then having somebody else, having a man repeat it, and the man gets heard and the woman does not. Right? So there are very few women I talk to who don't have an example of how their voice was discouraged, ignored, not heard in a very concrete way. Then we've also got this bigger picture of we don't have enough voice in general, right, right. At these leadership decision making tables. So I think that experience of not having a voice both both personally and collectively is very different. Men are used to being listened to. They make the assumption that they will be. Women are not coming at it from that same angle.

Teri Schmidt 00:17:29 No.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:17:32 So that's huge, right? The amount of extra work that is required just to share your point of view in a room is a huge difference in leadership. And never mind that we often get judged very differently when we do. All of those labels that are unique put on women, women who speak up, women who are passionate about what they're saying, right? So if you're passionate, you're emotional, if you speak up, you're overbearing, you're aggressive, all of those things. It's the double bind, right, of sort of not being able to win. You don't win if you don't speak up and you don't do so it's tricky to navigate all of that. It's tricky to be the only woman in a room or in an organization or at the table or one of few. I also think what's very different is that women and men are still not having an equal experience in the home. That is changing. And I think younger generations are getting better and better at this, although I still talk to a young woman who struggle with this issue as well because it is so deeply ingrained in our society, these gender roles in the household. And so maybe that worked. Maybe. Definitely a maybe for me, but maybe that worked at a time when a lot of women stayed home to raise a family. Now, granted, that was only ever middle class and above women, so it was always a privileged subset of the population anyway. However, most household these days have have two adults who are also working outside the home. And yet women continue to do the lion's share of unpaid domestic and household and caregiving work, including not only the day to day work of getting dinner on the table and making sure kids go to school to shoes on, but also the mental load of figuring it all out, right? Of remembering, like, oh, we've got swimming practice tonight. Or it's Helen's birthday. Or what are we having for dinner? That in itself is a huge mind share. What are we eating all day? Takes up a lot of mental space. It's bandwidth. So I think there's the invisible mental load that happens that women's shoulder an enormous amount of that, even when they have a more equitable distribution of the actual labor. And examples of that are when men in the household will say, well, just tell me what to do, or tell me how I can help you, then I have to think, I'm still facilitating. This whole thing must work. So I do really believe that equality needs to also begin at home. We need to make that invisible labor visible. We can't keep doing it and being quiet about it because that serves no one. So I think we have to start surfacing those conversations, maybe having some difficult conversations at home, and then doing the work of shifting the load and making it more equitable, because how do we perform out in the work world and the community if we're completely exhausted and all of our bandwidth is spent?

Teri Schmidt 00:20:42 Right?

Belinda Clemmensen 00:20:44 Yeah.

Teri Schmidt 00:20:44 When you've worked with women who have been able to shift that a bit, what have they done that has helped?

Belinda Clemmensen 00:20:52 Yeah. Well, what I generally recommend is you start by sort of listing it all. You start by taking stock of everything. And even when I suggest that some women are like, oh, my goodness, I don't even have the energy to do it, it'll take me a year to just write it on. So there's a really good book by Eve Rodsky called Fair Play, and she's done a lot of the legwork for us. She's made the list. Right. And the list is different for each one of us, depending on our household and who's in it. But it's a starting point. So if you're too tired to make the list, you can start with each one of us.

Teri Schmidt 00:21:25 Right.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:21:27 So you start by kind of making a list and then you go, okay, who's doing what here? Right? Because if we can't see it, we can't fix it, then I think it's starting to shift and have those conversations with your entire household. I mean, whoever's in it, this is a great conversation to have with your kids, because if you have children, in the absence of having these conversations and starting to unpack this stuff, what we're going to do is reinforce this very dynamic for our kids. That hurts. That one stings, right? When you think of that.

Teri Schmidt 00:21:57 It it does. And you probably saw my reaction to it, and that's why almost all the words were taken out of it.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:22:04 You can see it like we're teaching we're teaching our daughters who they need to be in the world, and we're sending them a lot of mixed messages because we're saying, like, you can go out and be and do anything as long as you do this at home. That's a mixed message. And we're also not doing our sons any favors because all of these things are part of being human. Right. If you're lucky enough to have a roof over your head, then there's household work. That is part of that.

Teri Schmidt 00:22:31 Right.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:22:33 We all need to participate in it.

Teri Schmidt 00:22:35 Yeah, it's about that in the service of everyone being able to share their unique gifts, their unique strengths, what makes them so special in a way that they should be able to share it with the world.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:22:51 Exactly. And I think we don't give our men and boys a chance to also feel that sense of satisfaction that comes with having cared for someone else or for an environment. Like, to make a meal for someone is an act of love. It's a gift, as is any other kind of caring work. It can be incredibly rewarding. And I think it's been devalued in our society for so long. I mean, it doesn't even count in our economic model that we've considered it. Yeah. Just undervalued or not important or not rewarding. And in fact, that's not true.

Teri Schmidt 00:23:27 Yeah, that's such a good point. And it reminds me of a past episode that we did with Amy Henderson, and we were talking specifically about childbearing and nurturing, and particularly in the time right after a woman gives birth, or even if they've adopted a child, the brain plasticity that happens. And it turns out it can actually happen for the man as well, as long as they are given an opportunity to contribute to the caregiving. And she was telling a story of how with I think it was her second child, she had the realization that she wasn't allowing her husband to help in that way. And they made some changes and it impacted both of them significantly.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:24:18 Yeah. And I think that's it right, because the gender roles are in all of us, so we've taken them on as women and we've internalized a lot of it. So there's unlearning that has to happen for us, too. Not about shame and blame and I should have known better and all of that. It's really about sort of the light bulb going on to say, hang on a second, have I chosen this or am I just doing what I thought I was supposed to do?

Teri Schmidt 00:24:43 Right.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:24:44 And then once we start having the awareness, then we can make choices.

Teri Schmidt 00:24:49 That's very true. And that's what putting it all out on the table can do, to have the awareness and make those choices. Speaking of burnout and women, you included in the book some research from the Nagaski sisters, and I thought it was fascinating. I'd love to hear more about the implications that it has for women who may want to be part of positive change in the workplace, in their communities, but are also facing burnout because of what they discovered in their research.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:25:25 Yeah, they've written a book called Burnout, which is a great read. And the piece that I kind of pulled out from that, which just fascinates me is this study that they did with rats. So they stressed rats out, male and female rats, and then they do this swim test where they put them in water and see how long they'll swim for. And it turns out that the female rats swim significantly longer and very rarely do they ever just stop, give up. And so they've extrapolated some of this towards human female behavior as well, which to me does make sense, which is it's the persistence piece that keeps swimming because what are you going to do? Not feed your kids? No, that's not going to happen, right? What are you going to do? Not go to work and pay the bills? No, that's not going to happen. So even though women do have a lot more systemic barriers that we face, whether it's harassment or not being heard in the workplace or not being promoted, not being paid, I mean, that's well documented, right? So we have all these barriers that are very real. We keep going, we keep working, and we work harder. And so I think that's partly what can lead to eventual burnout is that there's only so much, there's only so much swimming we can keep doing, right? Eventually we run out of steam. And I was in a really great discussion yesterday talking about getting women on boards, and there were two women there who were both on boards and they were giving advice about what it's like to get onto a corporate board. And essentially what they were saying, and this will not surprise you, but the women who do get board positions are way more qualified than their male counterparts. They've got board certification, they've taken training, they've got multiple degrees, they're lawyers, whatever it might be, their qualifications are massive. So more work, right? Put in more work to get there, they get there less often and they work harder to arrive. And they also said it takes way longer. So from the time you want to get on a board as a woman to the time you actually make it is multiple times longer than the same would be true for a male colleague. Again, more work. You got to put years more work into it. Then when you get the appointment, you don't necessarily look like other board members. To your point earlier about we used to say that showing up as a leader meant putting on the suit. So you have a different background, you had a different leadership journey, probably you look different. And so then there's the sales job that has to happen to sell to your shareholders or the public or whomever, that you are credible and deserve the position and possibly to your board member colleagues as well. More work, right? So this idea that by the time I mean, if you did all that, by the time you got to be a board member, it would be pretty fair if you were exhausted, started the job yet.

Teri Schmidt 00:28:34 Then I think in that same section you're also talking about when you are in that situation where you're burnt out or just overly stressed or just tired, you're less likely to change and want to contribute to change.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:28:49 This is it because change is also hard, right? Like change requires effort. So inertia I always say, like, the enemy of change is the status quo. It's just inertia, right? So to keep going the way we're going, even if it doesn't serve us, even if it's not working, is easier than to do the effort required to change direction, right? So the more burnt out and tired and exhausted we are, the less likely it is. And this is in the research as well, the less likely it is that we will initiate change even when we know we need it. So it really is it really is a bit of a catch 22 and yet women are still doing it and being successful at it. But there's a cost, right? I don't think we can downplay that. There is a personal cost. We see someone like Jacinda Ardern stepping down as PM of recently, you know, and saying she doesn't have enough gas in the tank. I respect that. I believe her 100%. I believe her.

Teri Schmidt 00:29:49 So what have you seen women do to overcome this or to I don't even know if I want to say make it easier, but how can we be part of the change when these barriers are up against us?

Belinda Clemmensen 00:30:06 It's such a good question. I think about this a lot and my answer probably changes as I learn new things. But one thing I think is don't do it alone. So find your allies, be they women or men, find your allies who understand the reality of your situation and really get what you're up against so that you don't have to then explain and justify your experiences. Right? There's someone there who understands. I think that's a big part of what we do in the women's leadership intensive is we create a peer group, a community of people who get it up in that space, people get you, which is such a relief. And it can be so helpful because then you can get on with the business of talking about, okay, well, what would be a good strategy? Or what might I try? Or how can I deal with this situation? Because people already believe you that the situation is real and it's valid. So don't do it alone is one thing. I think the other thing is we have to find a deeper motivation to do the work. So the job might be the job, but there's a deeper why. There a sense of purpose or meaning behind what we do that is so much more motivating than I'm just going to do it for the paycheck, or I'm just going to do it to make a point, or whatever it might be, right? We. Have to. It's almost like a bit of a calling or a sense of why or a sense of purpose. For me, that's really this idea of I want to contribute to moving the needle and I want to make the road easier for women coming next. So if I have to work hard for that, I'm good with it. That is way more compelling to me than I'm going to do it because I want more money. And again, I may be using the example of money too often because I do think economic power is still power and women need that too. So in no way am I saying that women shouldn't care about money because money is choice, it can be power. So let's not discount that. But I think for a lot of the women that I work with, they're also looking for something more intrinsic to drive, to connect into that sense.

Teri Schmidt 00:32:22 Meaning we just did an episode on meaningful work, so definitely aligned with that. I wonder then. So we talked about not doing it alone, having a community, making sure you have a motivating, why behind it in some sense, whatever you want to call it. What about the burnout piece? Is that a matter of setting boundaries or how can women again, getting back to the research with the rats, there probably is a time where if you just keep swimming all the time, you're not going to be able to sustain the work for the long haul. So what do we do about that?

Belinda Clemmensen 00:33:04 Well, I think the work we do on equality at home can help. Right? If we're over working at home, then that's going to contribute to the burnout across the board.

Teri Schmidt 00:33:13 True.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:33:14 I also think we need to learn how to say no, because I think well, the research is not just what I think. The research would show that women take a lot more what they call sort of non promotable tasks and roles. So women do a lot of additional work at work for which we do not get valued and we do not get paid and it does not sort of move the needle on anything other than keeping things quite nice for everybody else. So learning to sort of set those boundaries about what we will and will not do and to be kind of thoughtful about those decisions, as opposed to so many of us are valued for what we do for others and value ourselves for what we do for others. The very act of saying yes and doing some of those additional tasks feels rewarding. However, there's a limit, right, to how much of that we can do and when does it just start to be essentially upholding a machine that doesn't serve everyone equally? We as women and our participation in these things are reinforcing the perpetuation of them and it won't change unless we start saying no, thank you.

Teri Schmidt 00:34:23 Just one small note at a time. I know you focus a lot on values work we do as well. It's Stronger to Serve to serve just because I think it's so critical to know who you are, what's important to you. If you need to make those prioritization decisions. It's back to what we were talking about with the fair playlist, right. Getting everything out on the table and making sure that I'm taking this all on. It's a choice. I'm doing it because it contributes to my sense of meaning, because it aligns with my values, not just because it's what I thought was expected of me.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:35:01 Exactly. And I think another contributing factor to this in the whole burnout picture is do we have time to think, right? So do we have time to do the work you're talking about, which is connecting into our values and sort of saying like, why am I choosing to do this or why might I not? Is it values aligned? Is it not that requires time to think and reflect. It does if you are a working woman. That's a premium, right? And think if you have other caregiving responsibilities, there's very little of that. And so to me, that's another thing that I'm often coaching and advising women to do is to carve out time for reflection so that you can make better decisions for yourself and not just sort of react to whatever is in front of you.

Teri Schmidt 00:35:52 How do you convince women that it's worth doing that when it's so much easier, like you said earlier, to just go with inertia and go with the flow, go with what's already in existence.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:36:05 Yeah, I think that the reality is most of us need some kind of structure for that. Some people are very like, very self disciplined, meditate every day, journal every day, whatever it might be. That's awesome. A lot of us just get swept up in whatever's going on. So having some kind of a structure is really helpful. So that for us at the Women's Leadership Intensive, for example, when someone signs up for a year long course, they're doing three retreats that year with time for reflection and you're away from the day to day, which is huge for women, that is. In addition to that, we're also doing monthly online touch points and modules. So there's a structure to the reflection. We're asking you to stop and think about certain questions. And having spoken with women who've gone through that course and then tried to maintain it on their own, in some cases that was very short lived because without the structure, all the things, all the tasks, compiling back in. So I guess takeaway for me from that is just to say invest in some kind of a structure. Whether it's like, I don't know, a monthly mastermind or a discussion group or program like Women's Leadership Intensive, there's more and more of them out there, but that's an investment in you making good choices for your life. Pretty important.

Teri Schmidt 00:37:31 That's true. And what I hear in there is structure and community.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:37:35 Yes.

Teri Schmidt 00:37:36 Well, we have a lot of listeners who are new female leaders. And so I'd like to ask, what is one thing that you wish you knew when you were just starting your leadership journey?

Belinda Clemmensen 00:37:49 Yeah, I think one thing is, and I've seen this in myself, and I've also seen it in a lot of the women that come to our programs is there's something inside of us call a desire for a certain kind of life, wanting to contribute, a longing to be part of something important in the world? However, we define that for ourselves as very unique and individual. If we ignore that in service of all the external trappings of busyness and all the things out there, it will come back and find us or you'll end up back there someday. And so I think what I wish I could have said to my younger self, or certainly want to be saying to young women today is answer the call early, not necessarily easy to do. You're not necessarily going to get a ton of agreement from the world for it, but it's fulfilling. And to me, that matters more. Right? We get this one precious life. How do you want to live it?

Teri Schmidt 00:39:02 Well, thank you for that. I think that's a great note to end on. But if people would like to learn more about you or the work that you do, where's the best place for them to go?

Belinda Clemmensen 00:39:14 Probably the book is a great starting point. Again, I also think women need to be armed with a vocabulary and an understanding of the systems in which they're working and living. So the book is helpful for that too. So our website, Women's Leadershipintensive CA, because we're a company, there's a book page on the website, so that's a great place to begin. Excellent.

Teri Schmidt 00:39:38 Yeah, I highly recommend it. I encourage everyone to go out and get it at your favorite bookstore and let's save the world.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:39:47 It needs saving. Let's do this.

Teri Schmidt 00:39:49 Exactly. Well, thank you again for coming on. I appreciate your time and this was a great conversation.

Belinda Clemmensen 00:39:55 Thank you. It was a great conversation for me too.

Teri Schmidt 00:40:02 I hope you enjoyed that conversation. We are here to help you take action on some of the steps that Belinda mentioned. Number one, don't do it alone. Stay tuned for something exciting that Stronger to Serve has coming up at the end of April to help you connect with and learn from other women leaders. Number two, find a deeper motivation for your work. You know, we're all about this. We'll link several podcast episodes and free resources to help you with this. And if you're looking for someone to help you discover this more quickly and stay accountable to it with your decisions, check out our Leadership Voice Coaching. And number three, set a structured time to reflect on your values and how they impact your decisions. Again, this becomes easier with an accountability partner and coach, and I would be honored to help you with that. Thank you again to Belinda for all that went into creating this book and for her incredibly important work supporting women in leadership. I hope you feel inspired and empowered this week and until next week, Belinda read with this quote by Megan Smith that Belinda included in her book in mind. We know that diversity can sometimes be more uncomfortable because things are less familiar.

Teri Schmidt 00:41:27 But it gets the best results.


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