Episode 181: Show Notes
Today on the podcast we are bringing back Cyndie Spiegel. Cyndie is a Brooklyn-based consultant, coach and TedX speaker. She is the founder of The Community of Us – an inclusive strategic community for women change makers, founders, creative business owners and solopreneurs. Today, we are talking about creating real relationships, what it means to have friendships and empower other women. In the creative community, particularly the entrepreneurial women’s space today, there has been a shift in the way we support one another; all love, all positivity, all empowering, 2018 feminism, all sisters high-fiving sisters! When in reality, it’s all a little phony.
Despite what we promote online, there are often still shameful feelings of jealousy, envy and resentment that are difficult to talk about. These feelings often get in the way of us helping others, which is really not what we want as good human beings! So, how do we release our shame, embrace this community mindset and truly empower other women? Cyndie gives us four really tangible steps to analyze how we are treating other women, be it in our industry or in our friendships, in order to help us forgive ourselves and quit the Tall Poppy Syndrome! Take a listen to find out what that is. It’s real!
Is The "Collaboration" Mentality A Load of Bull?
It’s 2018 and we are changing the narrative around feminism and the words “woman empowerment”. But beneath that is an underlying suspicion no one really talks about. And the reality is so much of this is amazing for social media (#collaboration #communityovercompetition, sound familiar?) but the truth is, often the women around us are not always supportive of what we’re doing, even when they say they are and put it on social media. Ourselves included. Cyndie started to lose friends over her own success and this is something we have struggled with as well. As Cyndie’s business has grown, she has seen folks who used to be really open with information become a lot more guarded with what they share with her. Whether it’s a program they use or maybe a photographer they could recommend, it seemed guarded as if she would be able to somehow use that information and get way ahead with it. It stems from a place of jealousy. It’s not necessarily not wanting to see other women thrive, but it’s not wanting to see them thrive at your expense. So, does holding back information mean you are a jealous, unsupportive sh*t head?
Are You Going Down The Rabbit Hole of Being A Sh*t Head?
On the other hand, you are entitled to hold back whatever information you want. This does not necessarily make you an envious, rude, sh*t head. There are many other reasons why we might hold back information from other people or businesses, but the point is, this really is not the point. Because holding back information is just a tiny symptom of a much larger issue. When you start to find the information someone else is asking you for is fairly open information that you are just not willing to share – one of the most important things we can do as women is ask ourselves, “Why?” So here’s one simple way to keep yourself in check. If someone asks you for information and you feel hesitant or uncomfortable about giving it out, ask yourself why you feel that way. Is it a legitimate reason? Maybe that person is just an asshole. Or is it fear based? Are you worried about what that person is going to do with that information and how it will affect you?
What Does It Mean for Women to Really Support Other Women?
Supporting other women doesn’t mean you love every woman or that you want to see every other woman thrive, just because you are a feminist. Of course, as human beings, we don’t want to wish any harm on anyone else here but it doesn’t mean you have to be “rah, rah, rah” supportive of everybody just because they’re a woman. You don’t have to hire all women on your team because you are a woman. You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to lose your beliefs just to support women. Sometimes supporting a woman doesn’t have to be hiring them, it can be something as simple as just helping them with something they are struggling with. It can be as simple as a conversation or feedback or answering the email a stranger sent you asking you, “Hey, what do you think of this?” Truly supporting women is not asking what’s in it for you before you respond. Just willingly be open about your experience, be willing to help people (where you can) and just doing your best to not be an asshole.
How Can We Strive to Truly Empower Other Women?
For Cyndie, the word “empower” means doing everything in your power to help someone do something for themselves. It’s doing whatever you can to help in terms of tools, contacts, resources but it’s not executing the task for someone else. Empowering others means being transparent, honest, and a connector but it doesn’t mean you do their work. To empower means to set the stage for others to do their best work. And if you get bit by that empowering bug, you will want to keep doing that! Because it feels really good to empower others and even that is a great place to start. You don’t need to do something crazy to empower someone. You can start off by doing something small. Do what you can with whatever is within your reach and you don’t have to shout it from the rooftops. You can do something quietly ... and it will spread.
Why We Need to Address Our Shame and Guilt In Order to Empower
There is a lot of shame around this topic of empowerment. The reason we’re not talking about how we treat other women and how we feel about other women is because we’re ashamed of it. If we are not willing to go down that road first, then all of the other tangible steps Cyndie is about to give us won’t even matter. The one thing Cyndie wants every listener to know is that this behavior is not our fault. There are so many ways we have gotten to where we are right now and one of them is how we are socialized in this country. Boys and girls are socialized differently. The other thing is unconscious gender-bias. We expect women to behave a certain way and when they don’t behave that way, we don’t want to help them. Then there’s the Tall Poppy Syndrome. When a poppy gets too tall, we cut it down. And we do this to other women. Then there’s also the imposter syndrome. When we feel fraudulent ourselves, we put that onto other people. It’s important to recognize these things first before you can begin to try to fix it. None of these things are your fault and it is all of these things that have led us to this place. So give yourself a break, try to let go of the shame you feel about it and know we’ve all been there. We’ve all not wanted to help another woman and have felt guilty about it. This is about trying to do better. So take the first step.
The Four R’s: Four Tangible Steps to Empowering Yourself and Others
The first step, or ‘R’, to empowering yourself and others is 1.) Recognize your thoughts and feelings. You have to have some perspective on the things you are thinking and feeling. If someone asks you for something, question why you don’t want to give it to them. Why does someone make you uncomfortable? Is it because they have really done something wrong or because they’re really attractive and successful and that makes you uncomfortable? Those feelings of distrust, envy, jealousy – they lose a lot of power when you know where they’re coming from. So, the first thing is recognizing it and then 2.) Redirecting it. Redirect those feelings by, for example, saying “I hate this woman because … ” Redirect it to yourself. That is your shit. Not theirs. It’s way more difficult to dislike someone when you actually get to know them do 3.) Reach out. Surround yourself with women who are not like you. The second you reach out and build community, you feel a lot less separate. It’s easy to dislike someone on social media because you don’t know them. When you feel less separated you will be in space where you are a lot less likely to dislike people. However, you can, of course, dislike anyone you want as long as you have a REAL reason to do so. 4.) Reflect. Come back to your why. Reflect on what your deepest values are because when you can reflect on those, it allows you to come back to a space of balance. This is about you doing the work.
Relationship Cleansing: Who Are the People You Really Want in Your Life?
A lot of the time, we follow people on social media that we don’t even know and who we “don’t even like” just to make fun of them, making ourselves feel normal or better about ourselves. This is a negative habit and sometimes we need to cleanse ourselves from accounts, and real people, who are not serving us, especially if we are not serving them. All of the friends you have, chances are, they are not all your really, really good friends. So, you need to list your A-list friends, your B-list friends and then your C-list friends. Think about how and why you want these three lists of people in your life. Why aren’t you willing to just cut them out? And if you are willing to cut them out, just do it. You don’t always need to give a long explanation why. Chances are, that person won’t be too phased either. Those who would be phased would be on your A-list and that’s the list you want to keep!
Tall Poppy Syndrome: Why Don’t We Want To See Other Women Succeed?
This idea of the Tall Poppy Syndrome came up earlier in the show and to be clear, this is not a term that Cyndie made up herself. The Tall Poppy Syndrome refers to the behavior women so often have. We often view strong, authoritative women as bitchy. Again, because if you look at how we were socialized as kids, women are expected to behave in a certain way. Close your legs, be polite, don’t talk so loudly … Those ideas really lead toward this unconscious bias we have for other women and that leads to us not wanting to see them thrive. Because somewhere in the back of our heads, that’s not really right. When women get too high in position, we want to chop them down. But it’s not just their success. It could be the following they have, who they are in their community, the way that they look. When jealousy and envy creep in, we want to chop them down. This is a real syndrome that us women have. We need to acknowledge it and stop doing it!
- Is the #collaboration Mentality a Load of Bull? [0:04:00.1]
- Are You Going Down the Rabbit Hole of Being a Sh*t Head? [0:09:40.1]
- What Does It Mean for Women to Really Support Other Women? [0:13:45.1]
- How Can We Strive to Truly Empower Other Women? [0:18:10.1]
- The Four R’s: Four Tangible Steps to Empowering Yourself and Others. [0:23:08.1]
- Relationship Cleansing: Who Are the People You Really Want in Your Life? [0:32:22.1]
- Tall Poppy Syndrome: Why Don’t We Want To See Other Women Succeed? [0:39:45.1]
- Recognize your thoughts and feelings.
- Redirect those feelings to a place of empathy and grace.
- Reaching out and connecting with or creating a community.
- Reflect on your why and your values.