Webinar Replay - Breaking Borders

- Hello everyone, I am Rachel Sampson, director of the Key at Work and Keeper Women Programs here at Key Bank, and I want to welcome you to our program. As many of you know, October is National Women's Small Business Month. It is absolutely a time to celebrate the progress and achievements of women entrepreneurs everywhere while continuing to find ways to better support their success. That's where Key4Women steps in, focusing on ways to advocate for each other's success, to understand the challenges, and provide opportunities to connect and network in our communities. Our national webinars are one way. We do this by featuring women trailblazers like today's guest, Kate Eisler, to share their stories, expertise, and lessons learned with our members. For those of you that don't know, Kate is the co-founder of The W Marketplace, an economic engine for women as well as the co-founder of B Bold Now, a non-profit focused on accelerating gender parity. Her experience in high tech as a CEO of a digital health startup and an executive at Microsoft is where she spent many years living and working overseas provides a powerful platform of real world expertise and examples to draw from where addressing gender parity and balanced management practices, she shares her incredible story and insights in her memoir "Breaking Borders." And I am so excited to share that the first 125 registrants who also attend today's webinar will receive a complimentary signed copy of Kate's book. So today we're gonna get ready to get started, don't forget, as always, while you're enjoying the program, please be sure to use the chat box throughout the program to share your questions directly with Kate. We'll get to many of these throughout our program and during the QA portion as possible. So with that, Kate, thank you so much for joining. It is absolutely a pleasure to see you again today.

- Thank you, Rachel. I'm thrilled to be here and have this discussion with you and this great community.

- Awesome, thank you. Well, first let me start with congratulations. It is absolutely no small feat to launch a tech startup and publish your memoir "Breaking Borders". Can you tell us what inspired you to be so vulnerable and write your story down to share it with others?

- Well, first of all, it was a pandemic, and I'm not good at puzzles so what else was I.

- Occupy your time.

- That's exactly, no, you know, one of the things that inspired me is, you know, I talk to women. I'm fortunate enough to talk to women in lots of parts of my life every day, and I find so often a couple of things, women self-select out of opportunities. We decide that we aren't good enough, we aren't smart enough, we don't have the right skills, all the right ingredients, and so we back away from opportunities. And one of the things I thought is that, you know, we need to tell one another the real stories because when women tell one another the real story, two things happen immediately, we relate to one another and we find a common peace and we inspire one another, you know, it becomes, if she can do it, I can totally do it. And so I thought, you know, telling my story good, bad, and ugly was the right thing to do. And you know, to be very transparent about it was a little scary, and we can talk about some of those scary moments, but, you know, I felt it was really important. I am a very transparent person, and so I wanted people to be able to relate.

- I like that, and for me, I had the pleasure and opportunity to read your book and learn more about your incredible business journey and your fearless approach to work, and I thought that was so interesting because it was a constant throughout the book, was really talking about your willingness to take risks. And for me that that's scary and I typically don't do scary. So but when you think about that willingness to take risk and lean into that, where did that fearless courage inside of you really come from, and what advice do you really give to others of how to harness that power for them to, for all of us to be able to use and tap into that as well?

- So you know, I'm asked a lot about where that came from and I wish I had a great answer for that. But I, you know, we've laughed about the fact that I had FOMO before FOMO was a thing. It was always, I have sort of thought throughout my life from very young, which I talk about a little bit is why can't I do that? You know, I see something and think, you know, why can't I do it, and in some regards, it is certainly an outsized sense of confidence because there are things that I've thought of that why can't I do that and I've failed spectacularly, and things that I thought, why not try that and have succeeded? And so I think one of the things that we need to keep in mind all the time is telling ourselves, you know, tell the little voice in the back of your head to be quiet. She can be very loud sometimes and, you know, just go with, go with that instinct of I can do this. Now I would also say, you know, I've been, I am not fearless in terms of physical risk or taking big chances, but again, I'm like, I could never live with the what if I don't try that? And I think that's what we have to ask one another or ask yourself, what if you don't try it? What would happen?

- And I think that's a good part too, you know, we often think about that, why me, why me, but why not me? What's the harm in taking the risk when you think about it, about fear and fear really being that unknown, but I like how you talked about the confidence of just doing it, because I feel like sometimes it's just that point of getting to saying that, yes, I'm actually gonna do it, and all of those things that we build up versus actually doing them and seeing what comes of it, whether you're successful or whether you learn from it, you know, so I think that's incredible just to, I love the spirit of, as you mentioned, just continuing to do it and continuing to try and taking risk, and I'm sure the more that we do it, and even for me too, the more hopefully we get more comfortable with it or comfortable being uncomfortable.

- Yeah, I would say that I am always, I still have it today. You know, people say, oh my gosh, you couldn't possibly, and I'm like, of course I do every single day. And I think saying it out loud is a really critical piece of that.

- And and saying out loud is an important part. And I just saw that we got a question come in, what do you say out loud? What is that self talk that you talk to yourself?

- So I, you know, it's to state the, you know, what do I wanna do, you know, we talked about why not me, you know, there's know, there's some big decisions that I've made in my life that, you know, my career. And I've said, well, what if I don't do that? What, what kind of regret will I feel? This is an adventure for me, and I talk about, you know, I'm like, okay, if I were to take a huge career step and move overseas, what would that be like? And what would it, what would I feel like in six months if I didn't take this opportunity? And you know, having that discussion with yourself or with, you know, some of your, and will again, talk about this, I'm a huge advocate of creating a council, of having close friends that will call you out and support you both. Say it to them because then it becomes real.

- I love that. And just having that accountability and having those partners and those folks and making it real can also help just calm those nerves as you're thinking and it's a great sounding forward of just us determining what we're thinking in our heads versus what other people see, and I think that's always powerful, our vision of what we see versus what others see can often just be so different, so I love that. And so as we talk about The W Marketplace and creating these opportunities, you talk about it really being an economic engine for women and creating that space. What does that mean to you and why is it so important for you to do that?

- So a couple of things throughout my career I have, as I said, been very fortunate to spend a lot of time around women. And one of the things that I had the pleasure of doing that really drove my career was spending time living overseas, I learned about International Women's Day, and it was very impactful because International Women's Day is a celebration of women across a variety of aspects of life. And one of those is economic prosperity. And so when we started to get to the pandemic and the first things, if we can, you know, remember way back two and a half years ago when what we read is that women were bearing the impact significantly of the pandemic, losing their jobs, having to make a decision to stay home with the children. You know, all of those very significant impacts on their economic status, and women have been long behind economically to men across the world. The estimates right now in terms of gender parity all up are 132 years by the world economic form. But when you think about economic parity, that increases to over 200 years. So just let that sink in for just a minute, economic parity, 200 years. And what we're talking about there is not a wage parity conversation, it's about an economic platform, meaning, you know, what is your economic status? What do you have in the bank, what property, what securities, what assets do you have, investments, all of those sorts of things. And so when I thought about that, I thought, you know, the quickest way for women to be economically successful is to have their own business and to, you know, control their own lives and create a new normal. And so when I think about economic engine, The W Marketplace is a broad based e-commerce market for women owned businesses. And so we have merchandise and services on the site to where women, you know, host their businesses on the site, and shoppers can come and shop. And so you can buy from 20 women owned businesses in one cart instead of going to the big name retailers. You could do that and support the community that you care about from e-commerce. And so hopefully that becomes the economic engine for all of us, meaning business owners and shoppers.

- I love that, and talking about gender parity, and you touched on so many just jewels in that moment about what assets do you have, what does that look like? And we know from a financial confidence perspective, I love talking about money as a tool, a tool to create choices. Whether I have to choose to eat at the wonderful four star steak restaurant, or if I'm choosing McDonald's, if unfortunately my finances say that I can only afford this, then I'm limited in choices only because of the opportunities that I have, because of what I have in my coffers versus being able to choose whether I really just have a taste for a Big Mac today or if I want the steak. And figuring out that financial confidence piece for women is so big, because a lot of times you may be in a situation and you're making a choice off of these limited circumstances from a financial standpoint instead of what you would really prefer to do. So I love the opportunity of supporting and giving these women an opportunity to create gender parity of their own by having that entrepreneurial lens.

- Absolutely, I mean, I am all for that. I think women need to talk about money. I think we need to talk about it together, and I think we need to support one another to spend it in the right places and make it in the right places.

- Absolutely. And so along those lines of gender parity and celebrating days like International Women's Day, you also create it not just a platform for entrepreneurship, but also celebrating wonderful days like International Women's Day. How did you feel like that plays another role in regards to your work at W Marketplace and what really inspired you to create that other organization too?

- So you know, you will find it, I'm sure you heard a lot in my book that I never do things sort of in the right order. And so the nonprofit to celebrate Women came before The W Marketplace like several years before. So as I said, I had the opportunity to live and work overseas and learned about International Women's Day and was so inspired and I was working in the US in technology, and it was difficult. You know, all of us know that working at big tech firms and, you know, sometimes even big financial firms or indeed corporate America is a difficult thing for lots of women. And I was struggling and, you know, having a particularly hard time and thought, okay, you know, what am I gonna do? And I talked to a friend of mine who was European, who had just moved here, and she said, let's go to an International Women's Day event, it'll be great, we'll make us feel better, it'll be perfect. And so this was in January and we started looking around for events in Seattle and couldn't find one, there wasn't one. And so of course we thought, well, how hard can this be? Let's host one. And so we did, and the first one we hosted was in the basement of WeWork. And so we kind of put it out on our social media and talked to people and we had 80 people. And so we were so excited, it was like so wonderful. We had a kind of a panel discussion about, you know, women's stories and you know, what International Women's Day was, and it was great. It did, it solved the whole made us feel better problem. And so we moved on with our lives. And then a few months later, people started saying, well, what are you gonna do next year for International Women's Day? I'm like, I'm sorry, what? We did that, we took a half day off, we did it. And so we were being asked, and so we thought, okay, well let's do it again, and that year, it was 2015, we had over 300 people. And so we kept outgrowing the venues that we like got donated to us, and so we had, you know, like I say, over 300 people and ended up starting a nonprofit and thought we need to celebrate women because we need to come together and really ground it in a little bit of, here's where we are today, but share stories of women that are just like you and me that you can relate to, because as I said, you know, when you tell each other stories, you inspire one another. And so I think, you know, I'll just pick on Oprah for a second, she's fabulous, but we cannot aspire to be her. Most of us, some of us could, but we can't. She's untouchable, and so I think that that's a, you know, our mission was to say, let's inspire women to be successful where they are and to reach, you know, their potential and to be excited about it. And so that's what we did, so we have celebrated every year, and so now we're going into our eighth year, I can't even believe it. So that was first, and then The W Marketplace came later.

- I love that, and again, so many things to unpack there and appreciating meeting people where they are, because you know, as we talk about the Oprah example, maybe someone aspires to be Oprah, maybe someone doesn't, but what does that look like, particularly for them versus this ideal of the pinnacle that I have to be here in order to be successful, but then I'm managing all of these other things that maybe for everyone, you're not gonna walk in the exact same shoes or path so that path may look so different for you? And I think about you had those initial 80 people that showed up and quickly grew to 300, you know, I'm sure that took a lot of networking and connections. And you talk about that in your book too, about how that was a key to your success throughout your career journey. What are your networking approaches as you continue to grow? And those are some large networks to tap into when you're continuously getting that many people to connect together. What are the strategies that you utilize to elevate your exposure and opportunities?

- So there's a couple things, you know, I wanna sort of really touch and bring home the meeting people where they are with the networking as well, because I think that's really important because be, you know, the name of our nonprofit is B Bold, right? It's about B Bold. Now bold is defined in all kinds of ways in terms of, as you said, getting up in the morning and getting things going is really a bold move for some people some days. And you know, being Oprah is a is another one. The same holds true with networking. I will tell you that I am not a great networker, and let me, let me preface this. I have a big network and I work a lot at it. It's not a natural thing. I don't walk into a room and feel comfortable and just walk up to people and talk to them. That is a really hard thing. And I think that admitting that instead of going, oh, sure, I'll go to that, I mean, the worst possible scenario is come and we'll network for an hour, I'm like, ugh, I'll go 15 minutes, you know, unless I have people with me because I just hate that. But what I have done throughout my career is, you know, think, okay, you know, who do I need to meet and what can I bring and what can they bring, because it's a give and take. Networking is not superficial it, and it isn't, it doesn't have to be a deep friendship right off the bat. And I think that we oftentimes choose between one or the other. You know, we go, oh my gosh, you know, I can't be superficial and just wanna know those, or I've got to really deliver value to a person. When you meet a person and you are first getting to know that person, you may not know what value you bring to them, and that's okay. It is about, you know, meeting people, understanding, keeping in touch and corresponding, and I think, you know, these days we have the advantage of being connected through electronics. And I wouldn't only say social media because reach out and talk to people, ask them questions. I have found throughout my career that when I ask people, can I talk to you? Can I find out what you do, can you know, they will answer yes 95% of the time. If they have time, they will make time for you. And I say, employ that skill. We all have the ability to ask. We are afraid to ask sometimes, and we are afraid of the no. What harm does no do? Okay, I'll find someone else. What do you do, what are you interested in? Because then you find out how you can have a relationship with that person, how you can network. And so I do a lot of that, you know, I ask sort of, I kind of go out on a limb and I'm like, well, can you tell me about this, or, I was impressed with this and here's what I'd like to know. And as I said, you know, people from all walks of life generally will answer you.

- And you've made a number of good points. And we're so much alike in many regards. I've had the pleasure and opportunity of meeting many of our Key4Women members across our footprint as well as our internal employees. And one thing that I hear a lot about is being a good networker. And what resonated with you right now is that it's not comfortable for me either. It may seem like it when you meet me, but I'm very much in the camp with you of what questions can I ask, I really want to know more about them, what their priorities are, how do they enjoy spending their time outside of work? What are those commonalities so that we can figure out, I believe always, you always have some common ground at some point. You just have to figure out what it is and find ways to mutually be beneficial to one another as well. And we had a great exercise in our Pittsburgh forum this last two weeks, and we did a reciprocity exercise and it was fantastic because it was all about intentional networking to grow our networks and for success. So for those of you that are out there, that networking doesn't feel comfortable, you've heard it from me and Kate, it is, you are not alone in that aspect. And we all work at it all the time. I think one thing that often comes up is that confidence and imposter syndrome. And we've got a question from our audience too, of how do you overcome that in that moment? Because a lot of times it is that imposter syndrome that rears its ugly head or questions you have, how have you dealt with that over your career, especially being male dominated in the era where you came up as such a strong executive at Microsoft?

- Oh my gosh, I deal with it every single day now. Like when you read my bio, I just go, really? What if somebody realizes that, and then I think, okay, yeah, I did that. And so it never goes away, that's first and foremost. So don't ever feel bad about that. And again, I have the voice in my head and she is so loud sometimes, and I really have to thoughtfully say, you need to be quiet because this is, this is who I am and this is the life I'm living today. And so I'm just gonna do it, and I, you know, for some, you know, whether it's misguided or crazy, reason go, okay, yeah, why not? Let's do this, and you know, I have to tell myself oftentimes, oh my gosh, you founded a company, you founded a company, you're okay. You wrote a book, yep, that's you. And say it, you know, say it and try and own it every day.

- I love that we can do hard things, absolutely.

- We can do hard things, and you know what, you need people around you, again, I think that we oftentimes isolate ourselves by not telling people, because you don't wanna admit, oh my gosh, I need help because I'm suffering right now from should this really be my life? Should this really be my activity, should I be, should I get this job right? Tell your friends, say, I need your support. I need you to tell me that you're good because everybody needs that, but we're afraid to ask for that sometimes. You don't have to show up perfect all the time. Asking for help, you'll be amazed. It's so exciting because people go, sure, I'll help you. And of course you should do that.

- Absolutely, I think in life, and I think in business too, I think one of the silver linings, of course, we talk about COVID and so much have happened is this intersection between work and family. And I know that question continues to come up, and from my perspective, we do a lot of surveying across the country to determine what are those topics that our audience really wants to hear about so that we can make sure that our programming is really impactful to our audience members. And one thing that continues to resonate is that need for talking about asking for help and work life balance. And that plays such a big part of what you were just talking about, of asking for help, having that listening ear and you being a mom of three boys, we had another question that came in too about, you know, traveling all of the world, having three boys and for our audience member as well. But what about that mom guilt, and what about, you know, that fear of, as you mentioned, the FOMO before it came a thing, of missing out from your children, and how do you really get over that, or how do you ease the guilt down to a manageable level?

- Well, there's so much there because, you know, three kids and my children are very important to me, and my husband is really important to me, and my job is really important to me, and so you kind of go, oh my gosh, how do I manage all of that? I was 150% sure that the minute I took this job and we moved overseas and my husband was gonna stay home with my at the time, toddler, that in the middle of the night I would hear daddy, not mommy, and oh my gosh, it would crush me. It would absolutely crush me. That did not happen, first of all, because you are, you play a role in your child's life, no matter who you are, no matter which parent you are, you have a role that may not be traditional, but you have a relationship with that human being that will never change. And so I think that that's one thing to keep in mind. And I knew from a very early moment that I would not be a better parent because I was spending more time, I would be a better parent if I were happier person. Because let's face it, you know, I was a person for many years before I was parent. And so I think that we, they don't, they don't exist separately. You are a person that is a parent, and so keep that in mind. And so when you think about, you know, the guilt from a personal standpoint, I was like, I need to be a happy, fulfilled human to be a good parent. And so that was number one, and number two, I get back to who says what's a good mother? Who says, why do you feel guilty? What is the list of what makes a good mother? And who wrote the list? You know, there is, there is, lots of schools have thought about that, right? There is, you're a good mother if you're home, when your kids get home from school. How come? Are your kids healthy and happy and you know, maybe they have something more fun than hanging out with you at the end of the day. You know, maybe there's somebody better equipped to help with homework or, you know, all of those sorts of things. And so I had to really kind of come through that and think about what's best for that little human being? And now, you know, these, my boys are grown young men and I am happy to say that they, we have a great relationship because I was happy and I was untraditional. And they laugh about it now because when they were young, they didn't know what a traditional mother was. I did and I evaluated myself constantly against that list. They didn't, and so it didn't get reflected, it was about me. And so now they laugh about it now and they're like, we never understood that dads worked and moms didn't until we were older.

- Wow, that's so interesting. And and I love the perspective of who wrote the list, because that's so true. We have these historical and societal norms that say, you should be X. And when we think about it and we look at statistics of how involved we are in our kids' lives, I can't even tell you how many activities. I'm sure many of our audience members, also are fur moms. Like the things that you have to do to care for others, whether they're loved ones, whether they're children, it can be a lot, and you know, getting over that guilt of I can care for myself too and fill my cup to make sure that everyone else gets the overflow, that I'm whole too. You know, I think we have to continue to keep talking about it so that it can be okay. I deal with the mom guilt. And it's funny, at the beginning of our program, I tell my audience members, I'm very transparent, very vulnerable. My PC was gonna die 'cause I've got a kid at home who just oral surgery and no charger, yeah. But those are the real things that we have to start sharing to say that life is not perfect and it can get questionable, but who's to say that you're not good at something because you get bumps in the road? Or that because you have children that should not hold you back and we shouldn't be mommy tracked in our minds ourselves and or externally.

- That's it, and I am a firm believer that, you know, you have a lot to do with your trajectory and with how people see you. And so you're a whole person, you know, the thought of, you know, I'm managing a mother role and a career role is, that is real, that is absolutely real. And that is not exclusive, it's not separate. And so own it. Own it.

- Absolutely. And when we think about owning that and owning our dreams, and that was one thing that stood out for me in your book too, of your dreams of, as you mentioned, this is what I wanted and I understood that this makes me happy, and sometimes, you know, as women, whether we're starting our own businesses, growing those businesses, it's often sometimes looked at as a negative that we can be very driven and we have that grit that helps us to be successful, but if we are, sometimes it's held back. So you know, what is it that you think might stop women from pursuing their dreams from that perspective? And what's the number one mistake that they make if they do decide to go all in?

- So I think it goes back to, you know, how you see yourself what you think about yourself, you know, if you have a dream, what would it be like to not follow that? Who would you be if you didn't do that? And so I think that that's the thing we forget, well I'll be, you know, my community will think it's great and my children will think it's great, but if, you know, I go back to, yeah, but if you're not fulfilled and you're not, you're not striving to where you are comfortable and where you're feeling great about yourself, then you've lost it. You know, you're no good to anyone else kind of a thing. And so I think that women, I think that we go through the checklist in our minds and self-select out. I am the most unlikely person to have the career that I have had. And again, I wanna say I've had no huge trauma, I'm just an average person that never should have had this career, you know, I didn't have the right education. I spent the first 10 years of my life living in a motel, not a great one, Holiday Inn, my father ran hotels. And so, you know, I didn't have the network, I didn't have the right financial backing, any of that kind of thing, but I was, you know, like I was like, I wanna be this person, I want, this is who I think I could be and so what do I have to do to get there? And I followed that and I think that I sort of checked off the list of, well how come you have to have that, you know, I'm a 2018 college graduate, happily, I love it. I, I'm a new college graduate. My husband often asked me, did you not have a career counselor that could help you? Why do you start a business, you know, I mean like, couldn't they have gotten you a placement somewhere with a good job? So but I, so I didn't have the right education when I took off on my career. I had the enthusiasm and the drive and the smarts to think I could contribute something, and that's how I managed that. And I think that, you know, I had to spend a lot of time saying, Hm, why not? And I don't, you know, and I don't think that it is purely because I was more brilliant than anyone else. I think that it was listening and watching and really propelling myself in terms of this is an opportunity I think I can take advantage of and following that, and I, you know, that's the thing I want everybody to be inspired to look around. There's opportunities everywhere. It's a matter of do you see them and do you self-select out of them immediately, I can never do that. I, you hear women say it all the time, I could never do that. I have people that depend on me, I have, you know, obligations, I don't have this, shoot, you know, yeah, you do. And I would say that also the long answer to the question, but the other piece of it is the hardest conversation you will ever have about following your dreams is with the people closest to you. The hardest conversation for me, it was my husband. Because you have to again say that out loud and it makes it real. You know, you can self select all day, not me, not me, and then move on, and nobody knows and it's not risky 'cause you've thought about it and you've just decided. When you say it out loud, and when you engage someone who either depends on you or you know, looks up to you or you depend on, that's a hard, that's vulnerability. You gotta do it because that makes it real, and then, you know, you could decide that that's not the right opportunity for you or you could get a lot of support for doing it.

- So for you, what does that conversation look like? You know in your book you talk about some of those hard conversations that you've had to have with your husband, whereas when we think about, you know, whether it's a significant other, our children, our extended loved ones, what does that hard conversation look like? How do you frame it, how do you, especially for some of the bigger things like you talked about in your book, in making moves and decisions that may alter the course of your family.

- So I think the thing that we can't forget in all of this, because we're talking about you as a person and me as a person, but the point that you just made is so critical that the impact of that is not singular, it's not on a person. And so when I really raised my hand and said, listen, I think I wanna live in a different country and really pursue my career in a very different way. The implications of that was my husband would have to leave his job and not get another one because of, you know, visas, work visas in other countries are difficult to get for a trailing spouse. I was asking him to become the primary parent to a child, which this was in the early nineties, that was not a thing, you know, that was never a thing. It was not culturally appropriate in either of our families to live that way, we did not, we were both first generation college people. And so that was not how it happened in our lives. And so it was a big risk and I had to sit down and say, I had to own what I wanted and talk about how would that make you feel and how would, how could we work out those things, and it was huge risky. I mean, and if, and I will be really honest, he didn't just go, oh, that's a great idea, let's go. He said, that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard, we're not gonna do that, you know, and kind of moved on. And then, you know, I talked about it a couple more times and you know, well what would this piece look like? So it's problem solving, but it's risky problem solving. And I don't think we ought to be dissuaded by the first no, I am very tenacious about that. And there's been a lot of times in our lives where I've done that, I think collaborative decision is better. I've made decisions that were not particularly collaborative and I talk a lot about that. And those sometimes worked out and sometimes didn't. And they were very impactful for my whole family. And you know, you can't know until you do it. But you have to be willing, you know, that's your person. You gotta be willing to have a conversation.

- Absolutely, and to your credit and to your husband's credit I mean, it's not like, to your point that both of you were college graduates, he was successful in his career and his own right with aspirations and really collectively figuring out what works for your family is impactful. And sometimes you never know what that answer is going to be because you know, to your point in your situation, and even for mine being hypothetical, you know, I've talked, had conversations with my husband and it's like, well, sometimes we also need to have those preemptive conversations versus waiting until an opportunity presents itself is just, you know, what would we will be willing to do? What conversations can we have, you know, whether it's self talk with yourself about what those dreams look like and or with others to your point. So in those, so we talked about here's the, we're gonna move to another country and raise our family, you're going to now switch to be the primary caregiver, that had to be a difficult transition. What was that transition like and what kept you motivated to keep going and not throw in the towel during those challenging times?

- Oh my gosh, I did a couple times. I was like, forget it, I can't do this. You know, I don't, again, I don't wanna misrepresent. It was, you know, the enthusiasm and the excitement about it is, you know, it's sort of that honeymoon period and you're like, oh my gosh, I'm on a big adventure and, you know, he agreed and we're doing this and it's great. And then the reality happens of, oh my gosh, this is super hard and we don't know what our roles are in our community of, you know, we were transported and we were in an expat community, which we didn't, we had no experience in and we didn't fit the traditional roles, and so it was very hard to integrate into that. We had a family situation in our extended families that we weren't necessarily, you know, fitting them all there. And so it was a, it was an up and down thing and we really worked hard to listen to one another and know that, you know, what matters, and I talk about some very poignant moments in both of the cases, you know, for on both of our sides where we did wanna throw in the towel and say, forget this is too hard, it's too difficult for our marriage, for everybody's, you know, wellbeing and emotional good and so let's just forget it. But at the end of the day, you know, I go back to what do we really want? What do we see our potential and you know, kind of make that list, and we, and I talk about very specifically, we went through pros and cons of stuff and we didn't always agree, you know, anyone who has a long term partnership, it's a negotiation, everything's negotiation.

- Everything's negotiable.

- Everything is negotiable. And it's just when you think you've signed the contract, it's still negotiable. So that's how we've lived our life and we just had our 36th wedding anniversary.

- Oh, congratulations. That is phenomenal and a great place to pause and stop because this is an incredible conversation, I do wanna continue this on the other side as we do have an active chat and I have some wonderful q and a questions for you, but before we move to that portion, I want to encourage all of our attendees to check out The W Marketplace, if you haven't seen it yet, it's a fabulous platform, it's called TheWMarketplace.com. Also check out Kate's nonprofit B Bold Now at the letter BBoldNow.com. And of course you'll get a copy hopefully for those first, if you were one of the first 125 or if not getting a copy of Kate's book, "Breaking Borders" is available for purchase on TheWMarketplace.com website. That will tell you it is a great read in terms of the book. And one thing that I really enjoyed is that the end of each chapter, she gives you lessons learned. So I know that I've tagged all of those as something to go back and look at, so make sure you check out Kate's book. You can also find links to that are going to be in the chat, and of course, again, those 125 non Key Bank registrants who attended today's webinar, you will receive a link directly from The W Marketplace to access your complimentary copy of the book. So with that, we are also going to look at, and we'll have posted for you a survey link to give us your feedback on our programming and help inform and influence future topics so that we can continue to ensure that our program is tailored specifically to the needs of our community. Also, if you haven't already joined our Key4Women program, we highly encourage you to do so. You can do that at Key.com/joinK4W the number four W that will also be placed into the chat box, so again, here's the QR code to com to join Key4Women, please complete that post event survey, connects with B Bold Now The W Marketplace Key4Women, be on the lookout for some great content and information. So with that, I'm gonna go back because Kate, this is a lively chat that we've got going on here, so I'm excited to go through some of these. So as we talked about gender parity and some of the things we've talked about, we know statistically that women of color continue to struggle, whether it's imposter syndrome, access to network, support, just generally and how that is has been culturally in our society. What's the intersectionality of race and gender being often overlooked? How have you used that to influence your networks to support this group of women?

- So a couple of things, I absolutely talk about, the most successful entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs are women of color. And that is a statistic that you cannot, you know, you absolutely can't deny that and you can look at it everywhere. So we have worked very hard and consciously to build our W Marketplace that reflects that. So we are currently 39% black owned, 11% AAPI, a 8% Latina, 2% veteran, and 2% LGBTQ. And so we have a very broad group of women represented very intentionally because those are the women who are doing well in business. Those are the women who support their communities and have amazing products and services, and so I think that, if we're gonna create gender parity and we're gonna talk about success for women, think about who's successful and promote them and you know, from a business perspective it makes total sense from a female perspective, why wouldn't ya. We are 51% of the population, let's support one another.

- Absolutely, and supporting others. You know, there's a comment in our chat and thank you Teresa for this because I think sometimes it gets often overlooked. And another reason why I think about not just parenting, but as I mentioned our loved ones and our fur moms, because everyone's not gonna fit in that box and not everyone has a significant other. And it can be really challenging for our single parents. What advice do you have for those single parents as to how to navigate those waters as a woman or as a single parent, woman of color, like there's so many complexities, where do you start, where do you go? How do you move forward with some of that, given those challenges that may exist?

- So I think that the first thing you do is build that council, look around, you have people to support you. I think oftentimes, again, we get into the situation where we can't ask for help, we can't, and it's not a can you do this for me? It's, can you support me for a minute, can you just talk to me for five minutes and tell me it'll be okay, you know, that is huge. And it is not something that women do oftentimes because we suffer in silence, right? We're like, I gotta be good, I gotta be strong. Nobody wants to hear that. That is not the case, and when you have the complexities of, you know, fitting in traditional, I'm traditional only by the fact that I have, you know, I'm a mother, but my children aren't traditional. We didn't even talk about, I have one adopted child that is from Eastern Europe who doesn't look at all like me, he's the middle child. That was a whole different thing to have a child of color being a white person, it still is. And so we, you know, I've asked for help, how do I navigate this, what do I do? Here's my feelings with that council. And I think, you know, we need to get comfortable with that.

- I like that in that council. So we also got a question of having that council, did you have any women mentors or men mentors? And what's your thought about the differences? And we have some that like to be a ally to women, but maybe not necessarily a mentor given that has to be reciprocal in the time constraints.

- So I think mentorship and yes, I did on all sides and I, and they come and go, I still have them. And to be honest, they come and go. And I think that you need to think about why you want mentorship and why you want advisors and council members for specific things and look for them. You know, I have sought out very specific people in times in my life that I wanted to do, and I learned it early on. I had a male manager at Microsoft when I started who gave me a list of people to go meet that were like way above me and doing all kinds of things, and I did. And it was amazing. And those people I then began to draw on, and so, you know, when I have a problem in my situation, I have one now that I've reached out to two women that, you know, I've just said, okay, they will have this experience. They don't know me that well, but you know, they have no concept of other parts of my life, but this particular issue, they've been through it, can they help me, and both of them have said, by all means. And so I think men and women, depending on what you need them for and what you're looking for, be clear about that and then go look for them.

- I like that, you know, because it tacks on to another question that we got in our chat about, and I think it ties into this. It says what suggestions do you have for women who take great pride in their work and wants nothing more, but to set an example of a strong and empowered professional for two young boys who found out her position that she loves as being eliminated. How does she stay bold when feeling the stress and pressure to find a new opportunity quickly that will allow her to continue to provide what her family needs as the primary income earner?

- So a couple of things there, there's a lot there. I think that, you know, depending on how old, so I'm not an advocate of, you know, telling them all the stress of the specifics, but being honest and saying, Hey, we're gonna change things and here's what's gonna happen is the right example to set. And be open with your whole network about what you need. Here's the opportunity I'm looking for, and this is why, and I think that I ask my mentees and I've done it before, is write it down. Write what you would really like to do, not just thinking about it. Because once you get it from your head to your fingers to something that you can read, no matter what tool you use to do that, it becomes something that you go, oh my gosh, I can see myself doing or not. And so when you're looking for that opportunity, don't sell yourself short. I hear women go, I'm gonna just look for something that I could do while I look for something else. Unless, you know, that goes back to the Big Mac. If you have the choices, don't pick a Big Mac unless you really want the Big Mac, but say, here's what I'm striving for because once you say it, you will begin to live it and be that. And so that is a huge example for them. My kids are my biggest cheerleaders now because of that. I was like, okay, here's the job I want or here's the, you know, here's who I wanna be and I wrote that down, I still do it today.

- I love that, as I look at me too right in front of my desk I have the same thing on that I look at every single day, all day that's in front of me of those things that I wanna do, and I think that's great advice. I also think too, and would love your thoughts because we hear so much about if we're looking for a role or we're looking for opportunity or starting a business that we can't do it because we're not qualified. That we think we have to check every single box on that list in order to ask for that opportunity. But yet some of our counterparts may not necessarily think that way. What are your thoughts on that and how do you overcome that I-wanna-check-all-the-box syndrome.

- I think, and this is a stereotype that I'm gonna repeat and I normally hate them, but I'm gonna do it. Women wanna be perfect and do, yeah, yeah, I got all these things done and I can do this. How come again, you know, I go back to, we left just before we opened the seminar about cooking because some of us like to do it and have no time. Some of us hate to do it, but we all actually do it at some point in time. If you are following a recipe and you don't have eggs and you're not going to the store, you go, okay, what can I do to substitute for that, what goes in its place that'll be fine at the end of the day? So use that analogy in that career, okay, I have, you know, six of the 10 and what can I do, well, I can add this and so let's advocate for that because the job descriptions rarely, which I know that you all know this rarely represent the real job. They were something that had to be submitted and you had to write it, and all those things rarely represent what they're really looking for. And I, you know, I think that if you talk to yourself about what you're good at, and again, I am a huge advocate, write it down, here's what I could do and here's how I could succeed at this. Sell that. That's what you could do. There's no reason you have to have every item in the recipe and your own recipe.

- Absolutely, and those transferable skills, sometimes we don't give enough credit to, you may not have done exactly that, but the skills that you needed in order to accomplish that are very similar. And we can teach a lot of different things. It's some of those relationship buildings, how do you work through prioritizing some of those other things, play an even bigger role into just your knowledge of one particular subject. And speaking of that, we got another question in which I love, which is talking about when we think about bringing out outside self as we open with sharing how women inspire and validate each other when we share our stories, how do you recommend reaching a place when women can be vulnerable and ask for help when the historic message has always been, don't bring your outside work, check it at the door so that you're focused on that particular topic in and to what extent has that been the way just to, and to an extent that has been the way oh, that they've been successful is by checking it out the door. So how do we break out of that and what are your thoughts on it?

- I think that the good that the pandemic has brought is that is no longer the case for men or women, right? We all have lives and we have, you know, things that happen whether they're pets or partners or roommates or kids or we all have lives. And so it has become very apparent that we all live separately, you know? And it's like, oh my God, that, you know, we have to integrate all those things. I have been told for years not to bring my, you know, like, don't talk about your kids, don't do that. I'm like, well, okay, well I don't, they're part of me. I kind of have to, they make up me and I have done it. I think it is about being thoughtful about when and how and when it's appropriate and when you feel that it's appropriate, right? And so don't do that. The norms are changing and the good news is as more, you know, pandemic and young people come through the system, they are not a stereotypical, here is the tradition as some of us more mature people have been in our careers. And so I would also say to you, if you have to check it at the door and you're not comfortable, maybe you should look for a different opportunity.

- Absolutely, I love that. And I am so thankful here to be here at Key, as I mentioned earlier in the program, caring for a little one and you know how the charger cords disappear when you have little people in the house. To do that in real time on this call to say I may have an emergency in a moment is for me just being very vulnerable to say that yes, I do have a life outside of this and sometimes things don't go perfectly and I can't control what I don't see and all of those other things. So I think it's a great question and we just have to get comfortable sharing that because I think oftentimes we're in this bubble of, we see a picture and we just assume that everything is one particular way when it could be totally different behind the camera screen, so I love that. Well it has-

- Lemme see one more thing to that, Rachel. I think we can't forget you're successful because you're a whole person and so you gotta bring that whole person.

- Absolutely, absolutely. Well I love that this has been a phenomenal conversation. We're still getting comments and questions in the chat. We will make sure we send those over to Kate when we do that follow up through the program. Thank you all so much for joining today, and Kate, I am going to leave you with a final thought as we sign off.

- You know, I think I want everyone that listened today to be inspired and feel like you can sort of be bold where you are. And if you can't, I'll join your council and help you to feel inspired and feel like you can.

- I love that, well, thank you so much everyone. Have a great rest of your day, take care.

- Thank you.

Kate Isler, businesswoman, nonprofit leader, author and gender equity advocate, discusses her book, "Breaking Borders" a remarkable story of adventure, family and career success that defied all expectations.

Kate Isler is the Co-Founder of TheWMarketplace, an economic engine for women, as well as the Co-Founder of Be Bold Now, a nonprofit focused on accelerating gender parity. With over 20 years of international executive leadership experience gained working for Fortune 100 companies, Kate’s journey of leadership, challenging the status quo, overcoming adversity, and breaking gender stereotypes motivates and inspires.

Her experience in high tech as a CEO of a digital health startup and as an executive at Microsoft, where she spent many years living and working overseas, provides a powerful platform of real-world expertise and examples to draw from when addressing gender equity and balanced management practices.


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For more Key4Women resources to help you reach your goals, visit key.com/women, or email us to learn more.

This material is presented for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individual tax or financial advice. KeyBank does not provide legal advice.

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