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A Little Dignity and a Little Respect featuring Stacy Sherman

Released on MARCH 8, 2024

Dolly Parton is probably more associated with the 1980 film, 9 to 5, because of her hit theme song by the same name. But this scene featuring Lily Tomlin and Dabney Coleman captures a struggle that endures to this day – the prejudice against women in the business world. While things have changed significantly in the last four plus decades, women still face prejudice and discrimination in the workplace.

Stacy Sherman is a professional speaker, advisor, LinkedIn Instructor, author, podcaster, and so much more. On this International Women’s Day, she joins Next in Queue to share challenges, successes, advice, and inspiration.

We discuss:

  • Stacy’s family history of women in business
  • Challenges faced by women in business
  • Designing for inclusion
  • Lessons learned in corporate America
  • The value of different perspectives
  • Advice to her 20-year-old self

Connect with Stacy on LinkedIn

Stacy’s Linktree

International Women’s Day #InvestInWomen

Music courtesy of Big Red Horse


Rob Dwyer (00:02.73)
Today, Stacy Sherman is Next in Queue! Stacy, author, podcaster, consultant, LinkedIn learning instructor, and all around awesome person. Thank you for joining me today.

stacy (00:20.891)
Thank you, appreciate the time again and always.

Rob Dwyer (00:26.122)
So this is a special episode in honor of National Women's Appreciation Day. I thought you were... This episode actually, we've known each other for a long time. It's long overdue, but sometimes things just happen at the right time. And I couldn't think of a better person to bring on the show to have this discussion than you. So...

First of all, thank you. Thank you very much. Glad to have you.

I want to start by actually exploring a little bit about your family history because I think it is a unique experience. You come from a rather long line of women doing incredible things. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

stacy (01:26.363)
Yes, my grandparents were both certified accountants. And what's unusual about this story besides a woman being an accountant at that time, my grandmother, my grandfather had basically stayed home and helped with the kids while she went to go get her certifications. So that's unusual. And then they raised their

for girls, one of them my mom, to be in business. All of them were certified accountants, but two of them left the field, including my mom, to go to Wall Street. And it just really shows that they were ahead of their times. And even my mom, through the different fields she took,

from being an accountant to other roles and then ultimately on Wall Street was she was a game changer. She was a change agent. She was my role model. So I come from good blood.

Rob Dwyer (02:30.89)
I want to hone in on something that you just said, that she was your role model. And I wonder, and it can be difficult for us to speculate on how things would have been if our circumstances were different, but I wonder how much seeing your mom doing the things that she was doing in a room, I imagine largely populated by men formed,

your thought process and your confidence about what you could do in life.

stacy (03:10.875)
It did a lot. I didn't understand that until my older age. I remember going to Wall Street and my mom was among the first women on the American Stock Exchange. And I remember seeing, noticing that there was mostly men.

I did notice, because she's petite like I am, and I noticed them picking her up as she's doing the hand signals on, if you've ever seen movies of Wall Street. I I recognized something was different, but I didn't understand how she was completely going against gravity. And so I learned a lot of lessons from that.

But again, it wasn't until I was older. The only thing she did tell me when I went to college, she really pushed me hard to go for a business because business would help me in my life. And I didn't really know, again, why until I was older.

Rob Dwyer (04:22.57)
So despite having these amazing role models in your life, you did go into business as a woman. And I have to imagine that you've experienced many of the headwinds that all women have faced. Can you talk about some of the, despite all the progress that we've made, some of the existing challenges that are out there that we still haven't overcome.

stacy (04:55.419)
Yes, so I'm talking from two points of view. So one is the Stacy who for 25 plus years, I was always in corporate in different industries. Only since the last year have I been an entrepreneur. And so there's different perspectives, but I'll talk about the one that Stacy who grew up in corporate in different roles in companies and industries. And so,

The common theme across those roles was that.

It was a matter of feeling excluded in various situations. Now, I remember I was, I remember I was sitting in a cubicle and there were these glass windows which were meeting rooms. And I would look through and see the people meeting.

and I could see the whiteboard and the topics discussed. And they were very related to the projects I was working on. And I remember feeling so upset because why was I not in that room? There was no women in that room. So it wasn't personal, again, Stacy Sherman. But I did say to a friend after the fact, I said, I would have liked to be there.

I did advocate for myself as my mother taught me. She said, if you don't ask, the answer is always no. So I asked, and then I was invited thereafter. But think about all the people that don't ask. Why was it that I needed to ask when it was very relevant to the projects we were working on together? That's one example.

Rob Dwyer (06:56.81)
It strikes me that...

we often, and when I say we, I certainly come from the perspective of a white male, that we often forget about the fact that our perspective is not the only valid or useful or valuable perspective and that we need to be invitors of other perspectives instead of waiting on the asking.

to come our way that we need to invite those various perspectives because they have value. You've been involved in customer experience for your entire career. And at least half of customers are women. And that's a different perspective, right? And so when you think about the experience, like you bring...

stacy (07:55.163)

Rob Dwyer (08:00.874)
a perspective as a customer to that discipline that I can't bring. So can you talk about some of the differences that that entails?

stacy (08:19.035)
Yes. So here's another example, very concrete, that hurts my heart. And yet I want people to hear this because it can change. It's so easy. And that is, so when I worked at the elevator industry and there were very few women mechanics, technicians that go and repair the elevators.

And so I met one in particular and she was fabulous. And she said that she couldn't wear the uniform very easily because it was made for a guy, including the hard hat. There was no place for her to put a ponytail. Right? So we're talking about design, design for differences.

I mean, that's just not like, that doesn't take an AI. That doesn't take a high tech cost. This is about belonging and inclusion of all humans. And so when you design a hard hat for someone to do a job, it's designed, right, for all people or at least multiple use cases. I remember cars were built for men with seat belts.

And there's some really hardcore data around that women were dying more because it wasn't designed for her. So it's really about belonging. It's about inclusion. It's about designing for all people. And it's about inviting to the room because of our brains, not because of a quota.

Rob Dwyer (10:07.946)
Yeah, yeah. When you talk about design, my mind instantly went to something that I'm very familiar with, something that I was involved in for nearly two decades of my life, and that was sports officiating, specifically baseball. And while there have been strides in women in officiating of men's games,

Even at the professional level, I think about just the design aspects that I noticed early on when it came to the clothing and to the equipment, in particular, a chest protector, right? So that's kind of unique to baseball is to have a chest protector when you're working the plate to really protect your body against foul balls or catchers who get crossed up with their pitchers. Unfortunately, that does happen sometimes.

And those were at first very much designed for men. And so it's almost a way where the design excludes people without having to say like, you're not welcome here. The very equipment or uniforms or whatever presents itself as being unwelcoming.

stacy (11:36.087)
Absolutely. There's so many examples I can give you with this. Now, I also want to say something that, again, is in everybody's control. This is not design per se. This is getting the human basics right. So here's another story. In the workplace, I would be among friends, happen to be male.

and I was the only female in the room. And we were all just talking as we always do, and I do call them friends. Nothing personal here. What happened is in storytelling, one of the guys cursed. And I laughed, because you should come to my house. You'll hear a lot of cursing. And so...

what really upset me internally was he said, oh my gosh, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to curse in front of you. That bothered me. Not the curse, but the fact that you had to apologize. So either don't curse if you feel like you need to apologize, then don't do it, but don't call it out. You know, like allow me to be in the room and be part of your locker room talk.

because you know me and I'm just fun and light anyway, and I'm not gonna take offense, because you know me. But if you do have second thought, you think it's a point of being respectful, then just don't say it, but the apology was what made me feel different and not belonging.

Rob Dwyer (13:17.674)
Hmm, that's very interesting.

Have you had conversations? So let's talk about that. I mean, did you have a conversation with that individual afterwards and express kind of what you're talking about today? Or how hard is it to have those conversations?

stacy (13:41.851)
Most people will say it's very hard. My mother taught me that you have to speak up. Now, let me preface by saying, so I always speak up, but let me clarify. I speak up in a very non -threatening way. So how we speak up our tone, our non -accusatory...

It's mere teaching or educating. That's my style so that I can speak up and be heard. So there's a right way to speak up and not right way.

Rob Dwyer (14:21.834)
Hmm, very interesting.

I want to turn the tables on Stacy Sherman for just a moment.

Rob Dwyer (14:35.882)
I want to know what advice Stacy would give her 20 year old self. This is for those that don't listen to your amazing podcast, Doing CX Right, one of your recurring questions that you ask your guests is this one. But I want to ask you, what is that advice?

stacy (14:44.763)
Ha ha ha.

stacy (15:02.779)
I love that. I would say let go of the handles on the stairway. What I mean by that is it took me a long time to cross the street by myself. It took me a long time to do things where I didn't feel like I had to have complete security to take the step. Now I go on more roller coaster rides.

but I lived in such fear in my youth and there's good reasons for it, but I just was so, so risk averse. And it's ironic because my mom and my family members were such risk takers being in Wall Street and National Bridge players and they taught me backgammon. So that was my risk. But, you know, like I just...

I always had my hands on the railing and I just was afraid to take them off. So that's what I would give myself the advice to have done earlier. And then in my older life, I would have said, take the mic out of the box. I took six months to literally figure out what microphone to buy and then had it on a table before I took it out to start speaking.

So there's no reason for such delays.

Rob Dwyer (16:34.89)

stacy (16:36.153)
Let's get started.

Rob Dwyer (16:37.642)
I love that advice for sure. I want to dig into this risk taking, risk averse side of Stacy because you have recently taken a risk that maybe younger Stacy would never have dreamed of taking in the last year.

I have to imagine that was a big step for you and that you were probably still as a woman facing challenges that maybe a man in your position wouldn't be facing. Can you talk about number one? Like what got you to jump off that ledge? Hopefully with the parachute on the back and then number two.

What are some of the challenges that you're seeing now as an entrepreneur entering the marketplace and not being incorporated?

stacy (17:46.063)
lot to unpack there. So first of all, when...

Corporate left me last year at this time. I had a decision to make. Do I do what I always do? Which is, and I had not been in that situation, but my option, my choice was, do I press the corporate button and go right back as I've done for 25 plus years straight? I hadn't even taken a break between jobs. It was like literally one day.

because I needed the benefits. So here I was, do I press the button and go back, because I know that I'm employable and have amazing experiences and a resume, et cetera, et cetera? Or do I do what our friend Rob Connolly reminded me of and pause? And I decided to pause and reflect and grieve. I didn't even understand grieving. Like I...

just the job changed, no one died, but I was grieving, I didn't understand that. And my team, my direct reports, everybody was just like poof, gone. So I did pause and I struggled with pausing. And it was the best thing I've ever done, is the best gift I've ever had. I never understood a pause, I never had one. I've changed drastically. I've reinvented over that year of 2023,

by pausing. Now, caveat, I don't really know how to completely pause, because in my pause, I still did podcasting every week. I created that LinkedIn course. I've been writing a book that's coming out this year. So pause is a funny word. But mentally, mentally, I really was figuring out who the heck I am and what do I want my next half to be.

Rob Dwyer (19:39.978)

stacy (19:51.131)
Um, the other thing is as a female in my household, I was the breadwinner. Um, and that was a really tough shift for my family to change our dynamics. Scared, excited, all the emotions. Um, I'm still figuring that out.

And I'm still not used to completely blue sky. I am not in a box that I've always lived in. You know, I know this sounds really, it's gonna come out wrong, but I'll say it as best as I can. I can imagine people who come out of prison, that when they go outside prison and then they look up in the sky and around them, they're like, holy cow, where are the walls?

Rob Dwyer (20:49.226)

stacy (20:49.243)
Like they end up back because it's freaking scary. Like we, it's too free here. It's too open. It took me six months to appreciate like the openness. Cause I was used to my corporate org chart box. That's your, that's your boundary.

Rob Dwyer (21:09.194)
Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm.

stacy (21:14.171)
So it's a big shift. Huge.

Rob Dwyer (21:18.186)
It reminds me a little bit of the paradox of choice in which we really struggle to make decisions when we have a lot of options. And in that kind of situation, like the options feel almost limitless. And so it does become very scary and difficult to move forward because you don't have that.

limiting set in front of you that just says choose A, B, or C, which you do get more in the corporate world where you can go A, B, or C, right? That makes the choices simpler.

stacy (22:02.043)
It is. At the same time, I pushed boundaries and what I mean by that, and it cost me. So when I was in corporate, I started doing CXRite as a blog in 2016 timeframe. And it was just a blog. I had no idea if anyone would read it and they did. And then it turned into...

podcasting and then speaking around the world and doing all things, but on nights and weekends. And many of the companies I worked for did not like that, even though it was not during work hours at all. And I did not get promotions because of it. I was affected by it. Not till the job before...

last year and the year before, did they understand that by Stacy Sherman's brand and authenticity, it could help their brand? So that was the first time I experienced that. Point of story is I want listeners to know their passion, do some passion projects before you know you need it, before you understand it, because I am so lucky.

that my plan B and side hustles and passion projects, I call plan B into plan me now.

Rob Dwyer (23:30.762)
That is a fantastic transformation and it really speaks to sometimes that kind of foresight that I don't want to call it a hobby because I think that takes away from what you were doing. I don't view it as a hobby, but this thing that you have a passion for that you're doing on the side turned into for you something that you could do all the time.

I do want to go back to something that you mentioned earlier. Just to get your perspective, you talked about almost feeling locked into corporate because of the benefits. And I wonder, do the benefits impact women differently than they do men? And I'm thinking in particular, the health insurance benefits.

stacy (24:33.627)
Yeah, I don't know too much about the differences of that. I do know I am mindful of, we live in society and everybody's talking about how women are paid differently and not as much. It seems like reality and I don't know.

how that's progressing. I do know that friends of mine who asked for more did end up getting more, but they had to ask. For benefits, I mean, obviously that is a reason that we stay in companies and we stay in the box. And look, I don't know where my future's going, but I do know that...

You have to figure out when, where, when do you bet on yourself and take the short term gaps with the trust that you're gonna be better than before.

Rob Dwyer (25:45.738)

Rob Dwyer (25:49.322)
I wonder this journey that you're on.

How well has corporate America either A, prepared you in some ways to do this and or given you a guide of what you don't want to do?

stacy (26:13.979)
That's a great question. So I learned everything from corporate. I grew up in corporate, in sales and marketing and customer experience, which is what I have to do in my own business and worked with other departments. So it was an education in itself, along with doing the work and going for my MBA. And so the two in combination was certainly very valuable.

With that said, there's a boss that I had who I really didn't like. I learned the most from him. I went to him and I said, I've tried ABCD and I've got these roadblocks and I need your help so that we, the team can benefit. I didn't go there to complain.

I went there to solve and I explained the things I did. And his answer was not, I'll help you. His answer was not, oh, I know I have a bigger title. I can move some mountains for you. His answer was, I'm not going to help you go figure it out. And I hated him for that. That's not how I lead. But in the end, Rob, I now figure everything out.

Rob Dwyer (27:40.554)
I am reminded that sometimes the best lessons that we get from our leaders are when they simply challenge us to figure things out on our own. Right? I mean, there's a time to get help. And I do feel like good leaders recognize when they can provide that help, when they can maybe move a mountain out of the way.

And then there are times when the growth may come by making someone figure it out. And it sounds like as much as you hated that lesson, and sometimes we do hate important lessons in life, that that one ended up being one that was very useful to you.

stacy (28:26.651)

stacy (28:35.995)
It was, and I think that applies to parenting. I think looking back, I would have done some things differently. I would have not prevented some of the skinned knees.

Rob Dwyer (28:52.714)
I wonder too, one of the things that I feel like maybe as a society, particularly in America, that we don't value as much in the corporate world is the experience of motherhood and all of the things that that entails. Like being a mom is being a project manager and a personal coach and a million other things that.

are directly applicable in the corporate life. Can you maybe just share one of your favorite lessons that you learned being a mom?

stacy (29:36.643)

Well, first of all, I think a lot of moms will agree. We don't have time to stop and think. We're a little bit in robot mode everywhere we go because there is so much to juggle. And I think that for me, what I brought to work was naturally the skill of empathy.

and start with the empathy, whether it was from my colleague, whether it was from my boss, whether it was a partner, a vendor, it was putting myself in their shoes and then responding naturally. That comes with motherhood and it's a great skill. Now it's hard when you don't get it back.

But that's okay, we learn how to give it to ourselves.

Rob Dwyer (30:41.258)
I love that. Stacy, thank you. Thank you so much for joining me today and joining the audience today and sharing some really incredible insights and lessons that you've learned. And I think that you are an amazing role model to people out there, women and men. So thanks for doing CXRite.

and joining us on Next in Cube.

stacy (31:14.875)
Thank you. And I'd like to say one other thing. How much I appreciate as a mom of a young adult son and a young adult woman, female, and I really get to see both sides and appreciate...

Rob Dwyer (31:17.608)

stacy (31:43.321)
what it's like for my daughter who works in corporate as a female and some of the things that I had to go through and watch it from a different angle and letting her learn her lessons and how to advocate and speak up in the right way. And I also really understand a white male perspective for my son and the shoes he wears and others like him at all ages. So.

I really get to see all sides and I just say, let's just keep it human as opposed to gender -based decisions.

Rob Dwyer (32:21.29)
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much, Stacy, and have a fantastic March.

stacy (32:30.971)
Thank you.