Aug. 9, 2021

#2 Steering a Career Toward Impact, Staying Flexible & Developing Pathways for Women in Technology with Grace Kohn

#2 Steering a Career Toward Impact, Staying Flexible & Developing Pathways for Women in Technology with Grace Kohn

In this episode, our guest is Grace Kohn, Chief Operating Officer of SheSyndicate, a Technology & Strategy Consultant, and Founder of the TechSavvy Program. 

Grace graduated from Duke University with a BA in Mechanical Engineering where she went on to work in technology consulting at Accenture. Today she works with SRI Executive, a global search strategy and leadership consulting firm that specializes in international development, global health, sustainability development, finance, and education, where she focuses on developing fit-for-purpose strategies, assessing and advising on organizational development. 

Listen as we talk about her journey and how she found herself taking the road less traveled leaving a long-term partner track for a career toward impact. As the founder of TechSavvy and having worked closely with women to help upskill them for the workforce, she shares some valuable insights from her work as well as some well-grounded principles for productivity, self-growth, and staying flexible.

Transcript
Grace:

The driving forces women in stem hold him only about 27% of stem jobs in the last figures that I saw quoted and only about 25% of jobs in computing. And those are the jobs that are slotted for the most growth potential so, for me, it's really important to start to bring that 27% up to more of a 50, 50 split..

Hello, and welcome to the chasing proudy podcast by SheSyndicate a nonprofit dedicated to closing global economic gender gaps. I'm your host, Vicky Lay And every second episode, we invite social entrepreneurs in our community to talk about their impact journeys and gender lens solutions. Today's guest is Grace Kohn, chief operating officer. of SheSyndicate a technology and strategy consultant as well as the founder of our Tech Savvy. Program Welcome to the show Grace.

Grace:

Thank you, happy to be here!.

Great to have you here. Why don't you start by introducing yourself for our audience.

Grace:

Sure happy to. So I am originally from Denver, Colorado in the U S and recently moved back here. And I'll just start by giving, I guess a little bit of my. Professional resume, because I think we'll probably get into more of the detail on SheSyndicate. But my story is that I grew up as a young math lover really loved school and ended up studying mechanical engineering at duke university. And when I graduated, I left and went into technology consulting at Accenture and did that for about five and a half years before leaving in February of 2020. So as you. can imagine an interesting time to do a career transition and since then I have structured a new. Sort of life and career for myself in working at SheSyndicate, and also as a consultant of a different type at an organization called Sri executive. A global executive search strategy and leadership consulting firm that specializes in international development, global health, sustainability development, finance, and education. So. A great intersection was the work that we do together at SheSyndicate. And within the strategy practice, I support organizations to develop fit for purpose strategies, assessing and advising on organizational development and others in my practice review organization's leadership in governance performance. So. It's been an interesting career thus far with elements that have led me to where I am today and sort of real problem-solving consulting client focused way. And a lot of which I draw on in my role actually, syndicators.

Vicky:

Amazing. So do you know what I love about your story is how you. Dropped everything. And you just were like, okay, I'm making this decision. I'm going to leave my secure job at Accenture and I'm going to go and try to make it on my own as a consultant. So can you talk to us a little bit more about some of the challenges that you overcame during your career transition and any tips for someone looking to change their own career and move towards impact?

Grace:

For sure. So I think something that I would pass on to others is it took me a really long time to get to a place where I felt like I could make a career transition. I lacked confidence in myself to forge a path that was outside of a very secure job, where I was well received and getting positive feedback. I was getting groomed to go onto a long-term partner track, and all of that felt really safe and really secure. And I think. It's one of those things where risk reward, it felt very risky to step off of that track, but it's ended up being incredibly rewarding. But in order to get to the point where that happened after much consternation, I think that the key things that I did really in the immediate lead up or the six months, I'd say prior to leaving that job. We're taking a step back and reflecting on some of the trends in my life and the parts of the work that I really enjoyed and the parts that I felt like I was missing. So in terms of the things that were trends in my life, I like I mentioned, in the beginning, I had passion for math that turned into a passion for problem solving and engineering, and that transitioned into this technical. Piece in my technology consulting role and all of that, I really enjoyed. I love the problem solving of it. I loved having to think creatively. And I loved actually working with a team and other people figuring out how to translate between different types of people, people who are really technical and people who are really business minded, and also starting to figure out how to tell a story in a compelling way. So, Describing a problem in way that the audience I was talking to could understand and starting to parse out some of the key components in order to really dig deep, deepen them. And then the other piece that was less content oriented was when I looked back at the scope of my life, there was a trend of seeking out spaces where. Women got together and worked to build confidence. And when I was growing up that might've looked like a sports team or an experience at a summer camp, or just even groups of friends. And then moving on into my collegiate and professional career, I always ended up gravitating towards these groups of women and trying to learn from them personally and professionally, how I might think about my own future career, personal life and figure out how I could take pieces of the advice that they were giving and structure it. So I felt like I really got validation out of those experiences and I wanted to figure out a way. That I could potentially pay that forward and knowing that those were spaces that I felt like I understood, I felt like I wanted to figure out a way that I could bring impact into my life in a bigger way, which is the piece of my career that I felt like I was missing the most and also figure out how to tap into some of those other things. And actually, I don't know, Vicki, if you and I have ever talked about this. We met for coffee, I think in January or February of 2020. And that was our first time meeting. And we had a conversation where you were telling me about she syndicate and how to tap into. Your life's purpose and figure out how to make that a mission of impact and how to turn that into action and I really felt like that was the last sort of cherry on top of all this reflection that I've been doing to say, you know what, like time's right, there's never going to be any more right than now. I should really just do it. So that was truly the switch. That day I got in touch with my career counselor at Accenture, and I said, it's time for me to leave. So I don't know if you actually do that, but thank you.

Vicky:

You can't see me right now, but I have the biggest smile on my face. I totally remember that coffee. And I actually was going to introduce it at the start of this podcast, but I was like, Hmm, I think maybe I'll see if she remembers, but. That was a real big turning point for me too, because you, one of the first people externally, who I pitched my vision to who weren't within my inner circle and who hadn't been there from incubation. So, thanks goes both ways. Definitely.

Grace:

Well pitch definitely worked here. I am so much lighter. So into it.

Vicky:

You know, like sometimes what I describe you to people I'm like, grace is my operational tactical in a yang to my entrepreneurial yang. Like she just keeps me grounded and makes sure that the big vision can actually be executed on a daily basis. And so that sort of leads me to my next question, because I know you, you give me a lot of kudos for, sitting you on your path or trying to help you break out of your comfort zone to go for your purpose, but there's a big difference between talk and action. And you honestly are one of the most effective people I've ever met. I don't know how you spin all of those plates at the same time. And you always follow through what's your secret? How do you organize your day and your week, and any tips and advice given you're a professional project planner?

Grace:

Well, thank you for saying that. I. I found over the last year within the experience of COVID in quarantine, especially as I was in this sort of transitional period in my career, it was an interesting time to figure out that I really don't thrive with no structure. So even when I had the day to plan and have the Liberty to do what I wanted, I found myself. Making a schedule for myself because that is a more comfortable place for me to be. So one of my personal tools that I use is called a bullet journal. So it's a combination of structure and creativity, and I joke that. Types of crafts that I like or projects that I like are structured crafts. I like to needle point, which is coloring inside the lines. And I like to do this bullet journal because I use my ruler and my stickers and it's just, it gives me joy, but basically I like to plot out my day and try to at least time box certain activities to say, I'm going to spend a certain number of hours working on such and such, or I'm going to. Carve out X amount of time for this. So I really do take the time based approach. But I have to say it's one of the things that I think gives me comfort to have a schedule, but it also gives me a little bit of stress, whether that's good or bad Keeping deadlines and keeping the word that I said to do something. And I think that's been another lesson over the course of particularly the last year, but just being better about communicating when things aren't going exactly to plan and being a little bit more generous with myself. When things go a little bit differently than maybe I thought that they would.

Vicky:

The idea of a bullet journal is intriguing, just so we can get tangible. Can you explain how I would go about writing in my bullet journal? Let's say I have a blank piece of paper. How do I do that?

Grace:

So people have different ways that they do it. And if you go on Pinterest, there's a ton of very beautiful examples. For me personally, it looks like I set goals. At the beginning of this year, for example, of the things that? I wanted to be purposeful about doing. So, on the personal side, that was like how many books I wanted to read or new recipes that I wanted to try. And then I came up with a design that I liked. And now as I finish a book, Let's use that as an example, I have a little bookshelf in my journal, and so I draw it a little book on my bookshelf and I write once the title was, and I add it to my tracker in terms of like my day to day, you can think of it as sort of like a calendar that you can see online, but actually drawing it out. And having a table that I fill in the slots for is how I like to plan my day when I don't have a ton of structure coming from calls or meetings or things like that. my family jokes that it looks like the work of a mad person, but I really am a tactile learner. So being able to write things out and Use my hands helps it to sink in for me. So for me, it's a really helpful way to take that sort of idea and put it on paper and to make it a little bit more tangible for myself. I'll send you some pictures we can post

Vicky:

Yeah, please do,, I would have tried this bullet journal. I think that makes a lot of sense because when you are writing something down or, drawing something and effectively visualizing it, manifesting it on paper, I think it helps to reinforce the win and the progress that you've made in your mind. So I actually think that's a great method and I'm totally going to adopt that in my own practice. But speaking of getting things on paper as you sort of closed off, I thought that was a great way for us to segue into some of the work you do actually SheSyndicate and in gender equality, starting with getting tangible and defining women's economic empowerment or women's empowerment. What's your understanding of the term? Cause I know there's lots of definitions out there. And how has that definition changed for you over time throughout your career and throughout your impact?

Grace:

Yeah. And this is a conversation I know we have had a number of times defining particularly women's economic empowerment is very tough. because there are a lot of things that. Are intersecting and it's sometimes hard to detangle the different layers of things. But to me, the core of, women's economic empowerment is using, economic or financial tools as a means for wellbeing, an agency for women and girls. For the purposes of SheSyndicate, and a lot of cases that independence financially and economically comes out in the form of self-confidence and in a lot of cases on a more macro scale, thinking about things like pay parity or creating opportunities for equitable promotion that result in a higher level of economic power and freedom. those things end up manifesting themselves in women and girls, I think as a more equal player in society and having more of that agency, not only as an individual, but as a representative of a broader sort of societal role. And I think that's one of the reasons why we have somewhat struggle to set guard rails for economic empowerment and SheSyndicate, because it's really easy to see examples of safety from domestic violence and how that's interlinked with financial abusive relationships or how sexual and reproductive health has consequences for education. And for. Career prospects for women who maybe don't have as much autonomy over their family planning. And they ended up having to forgo some of those opportunities for the sake of raising a family or raising children. So I think it's really difficult to really draw the boundaries on economic, but typically I think about it as those tools for wellbeing and agency.

Vicky:

That makes a lot of sense, trying to widen the definition and I guess taking the Guard rails down so that we can encompass more thematics around impact in some of the issues relating to broader sustainability. Broader development. I love that intersectionality that you've brought to the definition. Can you talk to us more about how you yourself are trying to tackle an aspect of the economic gender gap? I know you're doing a lot at the macro level, trying to help us map everything out as an organization and then giving us a roadmap to try to execute on helping impact leaders, bring their visions to life. But I think what's interesting about your journey that you started as a working group leader. So talk to us about that journey and how you quantified the problem that you wanted to focus on specifically within that gap with numbers, if possible just to give our audience an idea of the size and scope of the problem that you specifically care about.

Grace:

Sure. So as you mentioned, my inroads and does she send the kit was as a working group leader and for those who are not familiar, a working group leader is basically someone who has an idea of how they want to enact impact in some way, but needs a little bit of help getting from either their idea or their starting point into a bigger scale or a bigger impact. And so where I came into. SheSyndicate was based on some of my professional experience and my areas of interest. When I was with Accenture, my first project when I got to New York was actually with dress for success, Northern New Jersey. The purpose of that engagement was to do a technical assessment of that organization, which focuses on building confidence for women who are going to an area where their first day of work by providing them an outfit that makes them feel really confident. And so we were trying to do is figure out how they can leverage technology to improve their efficacy. And with my technology consulting hat on a ton of opportunities there, but the other piece was for the clients that they serve. A lot of them did not have a ton of acumen in technology at all. And so we built out a program called the technology skills workshop. Is intended to help to build some of those skills for the clients that dress for success serve. So in met on a monthly basis to go over things that were common in the workplace. Using email. Google using PowerPoint and starting to use Excel. But what I found from that experience was the class was great. It was well attended once a month was not nearly enough. And having a situation where you had a single teacher with a group of students while step in the right direction was not completely. effective. So some of those seeds were planted from that experience. And then when I was. Thinking about my own career transition. I thought about the ways that I could leverage my experience personally, from a technical perspective it was in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic where I felt like day after day, I was seeing headlines about how the pandemic was impacting women more severely, both because jobs that they were more highly represented in were being furloughed or people were being laid off at higher rates. So thinking hospitality and retail. And there was the added burden of childcare. So when thinking about who might forego their career prospects for the sake of taking care of children, I think it was a microcosm for a larger conversation that goes on in terms of potential for earnings over the course of your life. And because there is a discrepancy in pay among men and women inevitably it sort of skews to the side of women. Taking on a bigger care role. And that's not the only driving force, but it certainly contributes. And so those two things came together and I ended up thinking about how I might do something in the context of this pandemic that would actually be helpful. And so I launched tech savvy, which is a one-on-one program that lasted six weeks where participants would meet with their partner for about an hour a week. And they would have a tailored experience where they could ask questions in a safe one-on-one space and feel like they could ask it a couple of times and not feel silly for asking it in a class. They can move at the pace that suited them. And they could really try to focus on those things that might help them get the job that they want. So that's included anything from LinkedIn to working on their resume and Microsoft word, being more comfortable in the Google drive and the Application suite and onto things that are a little bit more complex. So thinking about Canva or Excel and getting more comfortable with those and with the remote work world being quite prevalent then and can remain. So today, The opportunities for employment that are the most stable ended up being those that you can do virtually or can do in a hybrid model. So having that digital and computer literacy and more importantly, confidence has become basically table stakes for most professions. So we launched the program in, I think, June of 2020 and have been running. Ever since we think we've run about five cohorts have expanded it to include a focused Excel course, but we've run once so far, but intend to run again in the next couple of months, that really takes the basics of Excel through sort of an intermediate and is more of a classroom focused approach. So one instructor with multiple participants and as things change and evolve over the pandemic, and as we continue to figure out how all of our lives are continuously changing and evolving, we've continued to change tech savvy to offer the flexibility, to still do that one-on-one mentorship program, as well as have a we're asynchronous option. For those who are still caring for children whose schedules aren't as flexible or who just can't commit to that. One-on-one engagement So still trying to make something that suits people and helps give them the basic skills that they need for many jobs today. And the aspiration for women in tech is to build past this foundational level and to bring people along from the foundation to sort of demystifying what a technical career might look like. In my experience in technology consulting, I had a ton of exposure to not just the super technical people, but also some of the supporting roles that still are needed in a technical organization or within the technical side of a business organization. And knowing those opportunities helps to talk about some of the potential opportunities that might seem intimidating from the outside. But really once you start to build some of these foundational skills can be more accessible than they And I think the other part of your question was around numbers. I'm happy to give some numbers that the driving forces women in stem hold him only about 27% of stem jobs in the last figures that I saw quoted and only about 25% of jobs in computing. And those are the jobs that are slotted for the most growth potential in terms of availability of positions as well as in terms of pay. So, for me, it's really important to start to bring that 27% up to more of a 50, 50 split..

Vicky:

Which we love talking about here on chasing Parity. Love the, I love that as a tangible, you know, number that you are obviously going to contribute to and bring people along with you. So from your vantage point, as someone who sits at the intersection between technology and international development in your current role, as well as, consulting and strategy and talking to a lot of people in this space, what are some of the impact interventions or approaches you've seen out there? Are you seeing any trends across the solution landscape? Anything that's missing any thoughts around how we could be better for creating impact solutions in this space?

Grace:

For sure. I think there are sort of two sides of it. One is within the organizations and the other is within the solution landscape. I come from the wealth management world. So as private sector as, it gets pretty much the amount of investment in technology and efficiency analysis and data. In those firms is incredible and it helps to maximize profit and to maximize their. Internal efficiency. And I feel like within development organizations, there's a huge lack of that. So having the data to be able to diagnose some of the problems and to start to uncover where organizations might play in a really effective way. I see as a big gap between my private sector background and now my work within the development space. And I think making organizations that already work in development more effective and more efficient in achieving their mission would be a very interesting place to continue to invest further. And while there is starting to be a shift in that direction and a prioritization for data in particular, I don't think that the speed at which that's happening quite matches. it might be. And it leaves some of those organizations at a little bit of a disadvantage and figuring out how they might be at their most effective and then almost solution side. I think there has been a conversation around the opportunity to sort of jump the tech evolution phase in some developing nations and to figure out how. You don't have to go through all of the sort of dial up internet and steps that perhaps other countries have gone through and go straight into mobile banking and using digital in a really cool way, starting to use blockchain in ways that are innovative. And I think while there still is an opportunity and that opportunity has not passed there also hasn't been as much investment as there might be. So. Incredible instances of using AI and machine learning to help, to diagnose symptoms of poverty and to try to help figure out the most effective ways to solve them. But I think there's more of an opportunity there. And I think the last part is around this idea of where. Jobs are going. And this is where I tapped into from a women in tech perspective, to say, jobs are going to tech checking inevitable in some way, whether it's your full-time job or a supporting capacity of your job. And I think that providing technology skills to people across the world is critically important, but it can't be done in a vacuum. So understanding some of the other components of their lives that are. Potentially limiting in achieving their best health outcomes and their best financial outcomes and economic outcomes and their best outcomes in terms of wellbeing, an agency. I think you really do have to take a whole person approach to say, it's great that I'm providing a tech resourcing course, or I'm helping to teach people how to use different technologies. But if I'm not also helping. To provide them childcare if I'm not also providing them health solutions, if I'm not also, I'm trying to think about how climate change is going to impact their life in the next few years, then this is not going to end up being effective. So really taking a networked approach, whether individually from an organization or in partnership. I think there's a ton of opportunity there as well. That is starting to be realized. But again, it's a matter of pace to see if we can keep up with some of the impacts that are coming out as both from a climate change perspective, from a global health perspective, inclusive of the COVID-19 pandemic. And then just in terms of resources in poverty, which have been exacerbated by all of those more global trends and outcomes.

Vicky:

That was so meaty. I loved your response to that. I was writing all these notes and as you were talking. Stood out for me was this well-being approach to upskilling the future generations, upskilling this next wave of women, trying to get her ready to participate in the labor force to make waves, to change her organization her community and her economy. Can you talk about well let me ask it this way. If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing. For this gender equality movement across all of these different topic areas and issue areas that you mentioned who would be your target beneficiary, and what would you change in the world to help her?

Grace:

I think if I had to pick one demographic of women to help, I think young women would be my choice. What I might do is. If I have a magic wand and had the Liberty to do it is to try to eliminate barriers for education. So whether that's because they are responsible for their household or they have experienced abuse at school or any of the number of things that are more traumatic or even the smaller things where they have been. Let down by a teacher, they haven't been encouraged to fulfill their full potential. I feel like education is such a foundational piece to any of these things. And I can't take away. I think it's a little bit trickier to wave my wand for some of the more intersecting, normative issues or how people treat one another. But I do think that more education does lead to better health outcomes, more autonomy and more employment outcomes. If some of those other barriers are taken away. So tricky answer just because there so many potential places to dig in, but I know I definitely take in education that investment in yourself approach, and that has certainly informed the way that I have approached my work at, SheSyndicate and with women in tech.

Vicky:

I feel like that was a perfect answer for you because I can see on a daily basis, how much you value your own self growth and how you constantly hold yourself accountable to learning and developing as a person. So. it was very articulate the way you described it, but I'm also not surprised that's where you'd love to wave your magic wand.

Grace:

Yeah, well, I mean, I guess I started off saying how much I love schools.

Vicky:

it is definitely on, on grace brand, for sure. So, you've had this amazing impact journey you've gone from. corporate world consulting tech and then, volunteering your time with a nonprofit using that as a stepping stone to. Of course contribute and share some of the skills that you've developed through your career, but also figure out your next move. You then did that scary, brave decision to leave that safety net and jumped head first into your own thing and earning your first dollar of revenue as an entrepreneur, which I loved and bearing witness to. Can you talk to us about some of the lessons you've learned around launching the tech savvy program, running five cohorts successfully and growing the things you've learned through educating women and also now in your development work, what's the biggest thing you've learned as a person.

Grace:

I think it's flexibility. We started off talking about how much I love. Schedule and my bullet journal and all of that. And I think sometimes it's easy to cling to that as another type of safety net and just being flexible to say, What is my intention here? Why did this not maybe go as I had expected it to go? And is there a way that I can pivot from what I was doing to still be in line or seeking that intention? And we talk about that in terms of impact and in tech savvy, it's a human based program. It's dependent on volunteers. It's dependent on participants and. you just can't count on people to be the same way. Every time everyone is a beautiful individual unique person. And what that means is that having flexibility or enough flexibility to meet people where they are, has been critically important to the success of that program. But I think it's to any situation. I know I personally have been faced with a number of situations over the last year. COVID has presented many of them. That have required me to be flexible in what my life plans were. I was not anticipating to live in Colorado again at this time in my life. I'm delighted to be here, but I think being too wedded to whatever, I thought things were going to be like at a certain point in my life or at a certain point in Tech Savvy as a program or in my career has not really paid me dividends in the same way. Trying to see opportunities as they come has been. And I think a lot of people over the last year, I've had a similar reckoning and it's not comfortable at all. And I think that's expanded past even just my personal microcosm, but thinking about how we all impact each other in systemic ways I feel has confronted a lot of, sort of the status quo and the norms that we lived, our lives. Just accepting this fact inclusive among them. Some of the white privilege that I have lived with and being confronted with the fact that, that's not always the case and to be grateful for those things that I do have health included and to think about how I can stop living in just my safe space and to challenge my own thinking and my way of behaving and my way. Of being in relation to other people has been something that I think about a lot more actively than I ever have before. And I do think that some of that, I don't know if flexibility is the right word for all of those things, but I think it's the best catch all

Vicky:

I think that's a good catch. All word. I'm so glad you talked about flexibility too. And the. Need to be adaptable and pivot when life throws curve balls your way. And you've been thrown out a lot, especially over the past two years. Since I've known you and you also talked a little bit in the beginning of our conversation about how schedules scheduling can sometimes cause stress. Can you talk to that a little bit more in the context of this theme of flexibility because I feel like a lot of women and men out there you know, may struggle with this navigating the unknown, adapting, to changing circumstances and building resilience in that way. Any advice you can offer to someone who may be struggling with letting go of outcomes and trying to just, stick to the process focused on today and be present.

Grace:

Yeah, I think I can come at it from my own perspective. I try to be empathetic to the fact that my. Personal role sort of set of plates that I'm spinning or a lot, a lot of them are self-imposed, which is something that I do to myself. And I love to be busy and be involved in all of the things that I am involved in. But sometimes that does mean that Things do fall. And I remember Vicky, you gave me the example of having rubber balls and glass balls, and you just have to be honest with yourself of which are my rubber balls and which are my glass balls. And which can I maybe let fall to the floor for now and know that I can pick them back up versus which ones I really have to be careful with. And I think for me that has been figuring out which falls are, which particularly in my professional life. And I think you and I have talked about how, as a person I'm aspiring to be economically empowered myself. And so sometimes I do have to prioritize those things that I have a financial gain and hope that I can create space for those things that give me personal fulfillment outside of financial gain. And sometimes that just is how it is. And one of the biggest things that I have been grappling with in terms of that flexibility is just being more transparent. I over-commit to things. And then I would have a lot of shame and guilt about saying that I couldn't meet a deadline or that I needed a little bit more time. And that has been something where particularly over the last few years, as I've come to manage other people where I've seen how much I appreciate. Transparent communication to me, if a deadline isn't being met or if something needs to be changed or refined, that I'm way more open to that. Then if something just ends up getting missed and that's actually been a lesson that I've taken on myself from that. Just being communicative, being transparent and trying to come with solutions and not just saying, Hey, I can't do this. But to say, I can't do this by this day, I cannot propose to do it by this time. Or I can't do this in this particular way, but what about this? And trying to think about it, not from a guilt and a shame perspective, but more from a creativity perspective and to frame it as a proposal or something that I could do rather than beating myself up.

Vicky:

Thank you for raising shame and guilt in this conversation. That is such an important thing for us all, to be aware of when we are trying to build things and create things and do things we haven't done before. And I love your advice around setting boundaries and. Framing things in the right way using the right language when we're trying to you know, get a deadline on or working with other people and collaborating because and another example that reminds me of is I got to give an advice once by a mentor She told me not to apologize anymore, but say thank you. So thank you for your patience or thank you for waiting for me to be five minutes late or something like that. And I really appreciated her calling out the fact that I always apologize. Cause I think diverse leaders, generally we do have this this habit of doing so, so love that you talked about language too and framing the conversation with the people that you work with.

Grace:

Language can be so powerful. And I feel like that's something that gets flagged a ton about the way that women speak in the workplace for example. And so many opportunities to make small changes. So using the word just all the time or apologizing, or just, I think making yourself a little bit smaller linguistically and trying to eliminate some of those things from the way that you speak and the way that you write an email. I think not only changed the way that you're perceived, but I think can also be really empowering for the person who's speaking or writing.

Vicky:

Exactly and speaking of language and I guess trying to change stories that we tell ourselves, what book has made the most impact on you or framed another way, what book have you gifted the most and why?.

Grace:

Oh, good question. I'm a reader of fiction. I will admit, I have attempted to read things that are more like business and value add books, but I always end up in a place where I love storytelling and I love reading a fictional story. So I think the book that I have actually gifted the most has been the book Bel Canto and the backstory of it is that my mother gifted it to me and I.ended up gifting it forward. I founded a book club of women who I was inspired by and I want to spend time around. And within that book club, that was the first book that we read. And I think it's just a moving story with beautiful characters. And I find that a story can be incredibly compelling. And it's a great way to convey a message, not just in fiction, but in business and in life to try and make it something that's a human example, but it also just speaks to one of the trends that has led me to this point of having really inspiring women around me, who have great literature recommendations as well, and wanting to capitalize on that type of community and those types of individuals in any way that I can.

Vicky:

Great. And who was the author of that book?

Grace:

Oh, you're testing me. It, I think has an Ann Patchett, if I'm not mistaken,

Vicky:

Okay. Well good. Now I'll make sure I link it in the show notes. So I think cause we were talking about stories here. Why don't you tell us about something that you are excited about?

Grace:

I am very excited about SheSyndicate. I feel like over the last couple of months, you and I have had a ton of great strategic conversations and those are now starting to come to fruition. And so I am Really. excited about the next. few months and how we really bring some of those things to life. So I'll leave that as my cliffhanger to say, stay tuned. Cause big things are coming.

Vicky:

Amazing. Absolutely. And that's a great way for us to end the show. Stay tuned for the future impact journey of Grace

Kohn,

Vicky:

and of SheSyndicate. Thank you for your time. My pleasure.