Pursue What Matters
Episode 46: Women Supporting Women with Ali and Ann
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
I’m so excited about our podcast and I think you will be too. Today we’re having some real talk with two amazing ladies who are powerhouse leaders at work and at home. We’ll talk work we’ll talk home, we’ll talk about how to balance it all. You won’t want to miss this conversation.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:18
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the pursue what matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. One of the things that I hear all the time from women in leadership is that while they find purpose in their work, it can be so hard balancing work and home life. And I know that this has certainly been one of the most challenging aspects of my own career path. So before we jump into this conversation, let’s start with some proper introductions. Because I know if I don’t start with introductions, I’m going to I’m just going to get going and I will not have introduced these ladies. So first of all, let’s introduce these ladies. And then I will say a little bit more about why I’m looking forward to this conversation. So first of all, Alison Beasley Polson. So she is a finance director at the Nature Conservancy. And she’s been employed by the Conservancy for 15 years with work experience in grants administration, internal audit, and finance. So she currently leads a team of eight staff that provide communication training and support to over 100 finance staff located in all US states and 35 countries. Okay, that’s a lot of people to keep track of. In her free time, okay, when I read that, I was like, that’s kind of laughable in your free time. She’s on the board of directors for two small, not for profit organizations. And this is where you will laugh, too, because how does she have any free time? So she’s married, and she has twin boys who are 16 months old. And then she has four step children between the ages of 23 and 15. So you know, my first question for her might be, when does she have free time, but I’ll leave that for later.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:28
And then let’s introduce Ann Steele, so Ann Steele is the CEO and owner of Steele Strategies, a small business providing management consulting, facility, portfolio management and workspace solutions to both government and commercial sectors. So prior to starting her own business, Ann worked for various agencies in the federal government, including NASA and the US Department of Homeland Security, and lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband, eight year old daughter and six year old son. So she is bringing, she’s bringing up the East Coast for us. So we’re so, so excited to have you with us as well. And so I’m so thrilled to have both of you here today. And so I thought that I would, I would bring in the real pros to teach us their ways that clearly they have a lot of leadership experience, but also some great experience with figuring out the work life balance. You know, many of our listeners are leading in very similar ways to our guests, they’re doing important work with organizations they feel very committed to with teams they love and are challenged by all while juggling life, family and kiddos, and remote work and travel and all of it. And it’s all really, really great and meaningful.
Dr. Melissa Smith 3:50
But it can all be a lot, just a lot, a lot, a lot. So I know so many of our listeners will be able to, to really relate to our guests experience. And so I just think there’s such power in these types of conversations because they are opportunities for learning and growth. And so I know that I tease both of you about being pros on this topics. And definitely I think you’ll have some great valuable things to teach us. But I think more than anything else, these are great opportunities to have honest conversations and openings for each of us to say, you know, it’s okay to not have it all together. I know that those those types of conversations have always been most powerful for me. And you know, I’ll just say so, Allison and I have had been lifelong friends. And don’t worry, I’m not gonna like spill any dirt. You might be spilling dirt on me by the end of this conversation. But, you know, over the years, I’ve just so appreciated our conversations on these topics and and i think you know what, has been so meaningful about these conversations is, you know, leaving them and recognizing like, I don’t have to have it all figured out, you know, and like being in the trenches with, with friends and recognizing like, yeah, this is hard. This is hard stuff, but it’s meaningful. And you know, this idea of like, we’re all in it together, and how that can really help to take a little bit of the pressure off of ourselves and off of one another. And so I think there’s real power in that and real power in these types of conversations. And so that’s really, you know, my hope for our time together today. And, you know, one of the things that I love from Bernie brown and some of her teachings is the challenge to show up as a learner and not as a knower. And when we’re willing to do that, we always, we always grow. And so I know as we talk today about our experiences in life and leadership, and love without having to be knowers, that not only will we grow, but I’m confident that will, you know, what we have to say will be helpful for those who are listening as well. So I’m just really grateful for both of you to, you know, for your willingness to be here and to share a little bit of your experience with us. So now you get to, like set the record straight, or, you know, correct your BIOS, or anything, anything like that. So maybe we could just start. Ann why don’t you tell us just a little bit more about your leadership journey? Because I think one of the misconceptions out there sometimes is, you know, people start on a leadership journey, and they, they know exactly what they want to do. And it’s just like, a straight, straight course to leadership. Right. And you’re CEO and owner of your own company, and, and is that what your leadership journey looks like?
Ann Steele 6:58
Quite honestly, I don’t know that if you’d asked me like, 10 years ago, much less like 20 years ago, if I would have owned my own company. I don’t. I don’t think I could have said the answer was yes. It didn’t even really cross my mind, even though I came from a family where my father had his own company. So I was exposed to that. But I started off and my journey was kind of meandered quite a bit. I started off studying of all things in college at civil engineering. And so yeah, and after I graduated, I moved out to the Washington DC area. And I worked in traditional civil engineering, and that lasted about 10 months.
Dr. Melissa Smith 7:43
So you’ve loved it.
Ann Steele 7:46
Great. I mean, it was great job. I was like, I mean, I was making a bank. I was think I was making like 34,500 a year. We’re down in Arlington, Virginia. 20 something years ago, was above it. You could live off of it. But yeah, I had a roommate. I mean,
Ali Poulsen 8:05
I was making the same Yeah,
Ann Steele 8:07
yes. Yeah. Do you feel rich at the time, compared to our friend
Ali Poulsen 8:11
going from that paycheck? I was like, Yeah, I got a mate. I go buy a car. Yeah, it was a big. Aha. Yeah.
Ann Steele 8:22
So and then one day, I was it was back when you had to actually look for I tell people who are like, obviously younger than us about this. They’re like, Oh, you looked for jobs in a newspaper. Like literally in the print newspaper. So every you know, we’d get the Washington Post delivered her house and, and back then it was only like 25 cents. It was like ridiculous jam for a while. And now it’s like, you were you were like bankrolling money, right? But I read in it, and there was this little like, tiny, nondescript job advertisement, and I was just looking at it more for fun than anything about they were looking for an engineer who spoke Portuguese, who was willing to travel to remote locations and of all things. I’m an engineer, I speak Portuguese. And hell yeah. locations. That’s cool. So I actually I called and or no, I think I, I think I faxed in my resume. And then I got this call back. And they called me actually like at my work, because I don’t even think I had a cell phone. And it’s kind of like when people some people have them, some people didn’t. So I actually went across the street. I’m like, Can I call you back in a few minutes. I went downstairs across the street to a phone booth, and I called him back and I had basically Have a phone interview. And the next day I went up for like an in person interview. And it was this job with NASA doing. That’s the nondescript. So it was the job of NASA doing. Setting up infrastructure, and logistics for this huge, it’s actually the largest scale bioceramic project that’s ever taken place in the world down in the Amazon. So I did that for like eight years, eight, nine years. And then that was sort of wrapping up. And then I went over. And I worked in Homeland Security, doing facilities portfolio management for ports of entry, like airports, seaports, land ports of entry along our borders. And so I kind of like went up the ranks there. And I reached a point where I’ve had some great experience, fantastic experience, like, had worked for some great people worked for some not great people was, you know, just had some very unique, challenging things that were placed in front of me. Some projects that I got to work on, and it was always changing, especially Homeland Security. It’s like, whatever is the news of the day was, yeah, that’s what was happening. and homeland security at that time was also fairly new. Because if you guys all remember after 911 was when I was born. So I did that. And at some point, I just wasn’t happy anymore. And oh, by the way, like, during all of that, I met my husband, we did it for a couple years, we got married. And then we started to have kids. And so I had my I knew I didn’t want to do any big changes, like when I was having kids. And I knew that like I was secure enough and my job what I was doing there that I felt like, okay, I can actually have kids and do this job at the same time. And
Dr. Melissa Smith 12:06
that’s like, such an important point, though. Right? Like, you had to be at a point where you were secure enough on the job that you could have kids. Yes. Right. Which like is, I mean, I just think that’s a consideration most, right, like, men do not really think about it, right?
Ann Steele 12:24
Yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever, you know, ever crossed
Dr. Melissa Smith 12:27
Ann Steele 12:28
Yeah, yeah. And, and I was, you know, as a little bit older, I was like, 35, when I got married, so it was like, 3738 ish when I had my daughter. And, and then I have my son a little bit less than two years later. So I knew I just wanted the up and I became increasingly like, dissatisfied with what I was doing. Of course, there was like, the age old story of, there was some promotions that I wanted to get. And they were kind of like, name only promotions. I didn’t get them. I got passed over for people who, you know, for. I felt I was deserving. And so I was like, You know what, forget this. And at the time, I was talking with a friend of mine, who had is an entrepreneur, and he kind of like, nudged me and was like, do this, you got to do this, you got to do this. And so, you know, with his encouragement, and obviously the support of my husband, I put in my resignation. Which felt awesome.
Dr. Melissa Smith 13:46
Ann Steele 13:47
yeah. Which felt awesome. And I was at that point in time, I was already leading pretty large teams, and we were in different locations throughout the United States. Obviously, like, when I was working on the project for NASA, I had people that worked for me, down in Brazil, too. So you know, I had quite a bit experience leading, leading people, leading projects, leading initiatives. And I just felt like, I was kind of tired of being told what to do. And also, I felt constrained. So I started this, I started this business. Well, first, I went on vacation. It was my 30th it was my 40th birthday year. So I quit my job, went on vacation in Costa Rica with my family came back and literally the next day, like started work and never looked back. And that was this man. It’ll be five years ago.
Dr. Melissa Smith 14:48
Very cool. Very cool. Wow. And haven’t looked back. No. been happy with your decision.
Ann Steele 14:54
Absolutely. I mean, it has without a doubt been the most Stress inducing thing I’ve ever done in my life. Amen. I mean, probably even more so than motherhood. And, and it’s a very lonely place to be to. Absolutely, yeah. Which is a common refrain you hear from like business owners? Yeah. Oh, very lonely place to be absolutely. But you know, I have my go twos and I have I built my, my team of, not only people who work for me are amazing. And we have like, this great familial almost relationship, but also like people that I trust, who, whether you know, their friends or other professionals that I actually pay or hire to, you know, yeah, to advise me on things.
Ann Steele 15:49
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I love that I love so much about, you know, your leadership journey, but, you know, just the, just the nature of it in terms of, you know, you just, you take up some of these opportunities, you know, like, Oh, this just this little ad, and then, you know, we think about some of the mentors or the people in your life that encourage you along or nudge you along, and how that can really, that can really make such a big difference. And then the other thing that stood out is just, you know, you paying attention to your own experience of like, like, you know, that dissatisfaction or, you know, like, Ah, it’s time to do something different. Yes. Yeah. And how, you know,
Ann Steele 16:39
yeah, there was a lot of, I guess, just lists, I mean, a whole, like, sub journey and all of that. Just trying to, you know, trusting in yourself and still everyday, like, absolutely trying to figure that out. And, and, you know, it’s not, it’s not cut and dry. It’s not by any means easy. There’s definitely a lot of pressure to make it, make it look like it’s easy for others. But a lot of pressure not to talk about the difficult thing.
Dr. Melissa Smith 17:18
And I think especially when you’re especially when you’re the owner, when you’re the CEO, right, like those you lead sometimes really need you to, like, exude confidence
Ali Poulsen 17:31
and be like, everything’s okay
Dr. Melissa Smith 17:34
And, and I think, at least for me, like my experience has been like, it’s, there’s a fine line between like, okay, like, we’re gonna see this through, we got it together. And we kind of need to be transparent about these are the challenges we face? Yes. But getting that fine. balance right, is,
Ali Poulsen 17:52
I think that’ll work for anyone that leads a team, because I have that all the time. Where, if there’s chaos happening, you know, like, yeah, management changing are something that you as the leader have to be like, you know, what? We’re okay. We’re fine. You know, like, don’t let that trickle down to your, to the people that you have hired or supervising. Yeah, absolutely. You have to calm the water.
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:19
Yeah, absolutely. Well, Ali tell us about your leadership journey. And like, how did you get where you are now?
Ali Poulsen 18:28
Okay, so for myself, I actually ended up out in DC area also at the same time Ann did and that’s how we met, being in the same area. And so I started my career out with Arthur Andersen.
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:43
Oh, Arthur Andersen
Ali Poulsen 18:45
so my background is accounting. And that was just what you did. You went and worked for one of the I think was one of the big five,
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:53
the big five I know, they no longer exist.
Ann Steele 18:56
They’re still the big 5 they’re just not
Ali Poulsen 19:03
so anyhow, so that’s where I started my career and quickly realized that I wanted to change and, and I think kind of what Ann was talking about the looking for those different opportunities. And and that’s I would say, that’s what I’ve done through my entire career is when a new opportunity comes you got to decide if it’s right for you. But take it grab it, you know, and don’t think oh, I’m not qualified or This isn’t right for me. But if it looks like a good, good option, then you got to grab it.
Dr. Melissa Smith 19:36
Gotta be open!
Ali Poulsen 19:38
So I saw it and was thinking that I could do that. Yeah, like don’t think oh, no, that’s not for me. So anyhow, I went to a couple of different places ended up with the Nature Conservancy and they were always someplace I wanted to work. So I felt really lucky to get my foot in the door. And I’ve just kind of built my career there with them and it’s been amazing. I was an internal audit and got to travel the world. Oh,
Dr. Melissa Smith 20:05
So I, I got to be like the sad witness to all of Allison’s trips. I’m like, Where are you now? I’m in Kenya, I’m here…
Ali Poulsen 20:16
I saw some amazing things you the world. The other great thing is the company I work for does some really exciting and amazing on the ground conservation work. And so I aim for meaningful work, and I got to see it in person, which was just the bonus on top of it. So I did that for eight years. Got to meet some great people. That was the other thing is that through that job, I was meeting country directors and state directors and people who, knowing my name and who I am and the and the work that I can do, helped, I think, project me through my career, because I had these great contacts throughout my company. Yeah, people I’ve worked with.
Dr. Melissa Smith 20:59
Okay, and that’s huge, right? Because that’s actually one of the it’s actually in an upcoming podcast, I talk about the most effective female networkers and they, they network broadly across the organization, right? And it’s like, their networks are really fluid. And yeah, how, how that makes a huge difference.
Ali Poulsen 21:23
Yeah, or leadership. And luckily, the job gave me that opportunity that I was in, and you took advantage. And I took advantage of I really did. And so in my current role I was, and I’m now the director of my team. But previously, I was just a member, you know, one of the one of the members of the team. And but my boss at the time, she actually reached out to me, she knew who I was, yeah, you know, from this networking and all this stuff. And so she said, I want you to come on the team. And then when she decided to leave, and this position opened up, it was interesting. I think it was, and I was talking to actually at the time, and I said, Ann I’m like two months pregnant with twins,
Ali Poulsen 22:08
while you were like more pregnant, maybe I was, by the way.
Ann Steele 22:17
Yeah. And I was like, so I work remotely. So yeah, I, you know, if I wanted to not tell people, you know.
Ali Poulsen 22:35
So I remember reaching out to Ann and saying, and there’s this job. And it’s a director position, it would be a promotion. I don’t know if I should apply for it or not. Because as soon as I get it, I’ll go on maternity leave. Like, this is what I remember. Yeah. Yeah. And I think I talked to
Dr. Melissa Smith 22:51
and I loved Ann’s advice to you.
Ali Poulsen 22:54
And I hope it’s the same thing I’m thinking of right now. But she’s like, well, you’re, you want a job, right? So why not that job? Why not that be your job? Rather, you know, go for it, you’re gonna have a job, whether it’s the one you’re in now or that one. So what’s the difference? And I was like, You know what, you’re right. Right? Absolutely. And there’s no reason like, I felt very, you know, I felt qualified for it. And I thought, I need to go for it, here’s an opportunity. And I’m going to go for it. And I’m going to make this work. And, and it’s kind of true, it’s I was either going to do my previous role or my current role. And it worked out great. My company was very supportive. I, you know, when I told them after I, after I got the job.
Dr. Melissa Smith 23:46
After you got the job!
Ali Poulsen 23:50
Right. And, and I talked to one of our mutual friends most of the time, and I said, should I have told the hiring manager during the interview? Or, you know, in that process, because I knew him really well? I said, should I have told him that I was pregnant and going on maternity leave come, you know, November. And she worked in HR, and she said, I wouldn’t want to know
Ali Poulsen 24:12
Yeah, cuz she’s like, I wouldn’t want it to sway my decision either way, exactly. As what she said, and, you know, you could probably debate the right approach. But I decided, you know, what, I want to be hired. Because I’m the right person for the job. And have nothing else other than my skills and my abilities make that decision? Yeah. Yeah. And so I told him when when when my hiring manager, you know, reached out I said, Hey, I want to let you know, you know, this is what’s going on. I’ll be going on maternity leave come November timeframe, and
Dr. Melissa Smith 24:46
How are you feeling about that conversation?
Ali Poulsen 24:50
Um, I was really nervous.
Ann Steele 24:53
Was it a man you were talking to?
Ali Poulsen 24:56
Yeah. Um, the best part about that If I knew him really well, I’d worked with him face to face in the same office. I had a good relationship. I knew he was a very reasonable, yeah, understanding person. And he was a family, man, you know. So I think I had a good situation. But I was nervous to tell him that we later Oh, by the way, I’m on maternity leave soon. And so thanks for the jobs for the job. Yeah, I’ll be back. You know, yeah. And he just said, Okay, well, that’s good to know. Congratulations. I’m really happy for you tell me more about, you know, yeah, you’re having, you know, he said, so you’re having a child? And I said, Well, I’m actually having two. And he was like, the plot thickens. Yeah. And he’s like, Whoa, okay. That’s a lot. And I’m like, I know, it’s, it’s gonna be a lot. I said, but I’ve, I’ve got a good situation, I’m really, you know, I think I’m set up still to succeed here. And, and I’ll make sure I have everything covered. Before I go out, which, I’ll tell you, I had my twins were born eight weeks early, so to say I have before the baby shower. I know. And so to say I had everything covered. It was by the skin of my teeth that I had just gotten some things in order and then went out. Yeah. But I and I told my boss at the time, I said, You know, I have an amazing team of people. And they are and they’re still that way. Who I know it’s gonna be a stretch for him. But I know, they’re, they’re gonna, you know, pull together and they’ll be okay, well, I’m out. Yeah. And the crazy thing is, is I hired two new people who started the week after I went out. Remember? Yeah, it was kind of it was kind of crazy. But anyhow, so I’d say from from my leadership, kind of where I went, I looked for the opportunities. I networked, got to know people. And I think I tried to work really hard on those relationships today with those working relationships, you know, don’t don’t burn bridges, because there’s just no need for it. And you’ll succeed with those relationships.
Dr. Melissa Smith 27:09
Yeah, yeah. Well, and that, I mean, relationships are just really matter so much. I mean, just personally, right. But I think when it comes to anything, like nothing matters more than the relationships you cultivate, right? And so whether it’s, you know, like, you’re gonna need those later. I mean, that’s kind of a very transactional way to look at it. But she’s like, you know, that’s, that’s your integrity. That’s who you are. That’s what you’re gonna be remembered by.
Ali Poulsen 27:37
And I feel like people helped me through my, you know, process so far. Yeah. And, and I hope to do the same for someone else. Because, you know, you got to help other people who are also trying to find their way.
Dr. Melissa Smith 27:53
Yeah, yeah. So, yeah, be the way for someone else.
Ann Steele 27:57
I think it’s great, though, that like you ultimately made the decision not it’s so not to slow down your career, as you had kids, to just keep going as if, you know, you’re looking forward. Because I think so many women feel that pressure, especially when they’re, you know, they’re working women. And they, they just kind of like, take these feel like they have to go easy jobs or things that are just, you know,
Dr. Melissa Smith 28:26
or something that’s below their skill level. Yeah, I agree with you on that. And I think I think part of what’s really powerful in, in, in what you just shared alley, is that you that you had, you had a good friend that, that encouraged you to go for it. Right, because I actually think a lot of times, unfortunately, like the people in our lives, are there wringing their hands, saying, like, Oh, are you sure? Like, maybe, maybe it’s too much, or maybe it’s too stressful? Or maybe you should just, maybe you should just stay with the other job. You know.
Ali Poulsen 29:07
I had coworkers who made comments like that, like, Oh, you just go go part time or something? And then I’m like, well, should I get that needs to kind of start to I start to doubt myself. And, and I think the best resource for me was to talk to other women. Yeah, who understood like talking to you talking to Ann, you know, other people who also were working also had kids. I mean, I appreciate everyone’s input. I’m like, you give me you know, like, yeah, we we can talk and you understand where I’m coming from. And you also can give me some of that real advice, being like, I’ve been there. It is hard. But this is my suggestion. One of the things ansaid was, you know, we talked a lot about I was looking at daycares and stuff. Yeah. That I remember Ann saying, oh, man, that is that’s really hard to get two kids out the door. Every morning.probably no matter what the age, right?
Dr. Melissa Smith 30:05
Whether you’re a huge hot or Arlington in Arlington might be a little harder,
Ali Poulsen 30:16
And so she her advice to me was like, do what you can to maybe have someone in your home. And I just ended up with the most ideal situation.it if I didn’t. But I do have someone. It’s a niece who lives in our home and she watches the boys. She’s our nanny. Yeah. So I don’t have to do that. But I don’t know. I think I would have pushed the other way if I hadn’t had someone who’d been through it
Dr. Melissa Smith 30:46
that I could navigate it that yeah,
Ali Poulsen 30:48
that says, Oh, yeah, this is these are your hurdles? Yeah, so just consider it, you know?
Dr. Melissa Smith 30:53
Yeah. Cuz you cuz you don’t know what you don’t know.
Ali Poulsen 30:56
I’ve never done this before. Yeah,
Dr. Melissa Smith 30:57
exactly. So to have a friend who says, mornings are hellacious. Yeah,
Ann Steele 31:03
It’s just the transitions too like I always find coming home and he was hanging up your kids and like, they want to play they’re having fun with their friends.
Dr. Melissa Smith 31:14
Yeah, that witching hour. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Well, and I think, you know, I think to your point that this idea of knowing, knowing yourself, and and being able to look at Okay, well, well, you know, am I going to be content, this other job like ultimately, right, like so. So these next couple years might be a little challenging, right. But ultimately, what
Ali Poulsen 31:41
I would have regretted not at least trying like I did, there were some great candidates for this job. You know, I wasn’t the only one. And I thought, you know, I, at the end of the day, I will regret not at least applying. Yeah. And putting myself out there. And so even if I didn’t get the job, which I would have been, you know, that would have been fine. Yeah. But, yeah, I didn’t want to look back and say, Man, I wish I would have I wish I would have tried that. Yeah. What if?
Dr. Melissa Smith 32:08
Yeah, so I’ve just been coming across some of the research on stress. And, and I think one of the biggest services we’ve done, and I think psychologists have been a big part of that. So, you know, I’ll indict all psychologists here. But I’m trying to correct it now, isnwe’ve sent the message that all stress is bad. And the research actually shows exactly the opposite. And so, you know, we, so we kind of think about, for instance, you looking at, you know, having having these babies and potentially looking at a new leadership role for yourself, and it’s like, oh, that’s going to be more stress, that’s a bad, that’s a bad idea, you really shouldn’t do that. But when we think about stress, what the research is really indicating is that stress, stress is a sign of meaning, right? That when we have stress in our life, it means that we really care about things. And so, you know, it’s an important way that we make meaning in our life. And so it’s, the thing about stress is when we see stress as a negative, bad thing, like this shouldn’t be part of my life, then it actually has negative effects on us. But when we, when we can change our relationship to stress and say, You know what, like, yeah, this is a this is a challenging period. But isn’t it lovely that, you know, I get to, I get to be a mom to these babies, and I get to do really meaningful work. And that you, you learn to kind of embrace the challenges of that, then you actually get the benefits of stress. And they’re actually like, really big benefits.
Ali Poulsen 33:59
That’s good to know.
Dr. Melissa Smith 34:00
It’s a stress Yeah, I know that’s that was that’ll be an upcoming podcast
Ann Steele 34:05
I was thinking, my maternity leave with my oldest I had, I was off for about five months on maternity leave. And going back so I went through this entire journey, though, of like, being kind of mad that I had to work and then all of a sudden, I was like, why am I pretending to be mad that I want to work and that I that I I actually prefer this and I want this and so it just I just had to come to my like unreal eyes ation that like, no matter what, this was the choice that I wanted for my life in order to be happy in order to feel fulfilled and thrive in my life. I need to do this work. Yeah.
Dr. Melissa Smith 34:55
And, and maybe you can, maybe you can fully on that. And you know, right I mean, I think for a lot of us as, as working mothers, we feel guilt about that. Or maybe others throw guilt on us about that. But I’ve had those years. I mean, I had years where I was like, Okay, I’m gonna just work part time. And then I was like, the most depressed I’ve ever been in my life. I’m like, well, this certainly it’s not working for me. And, and actually, what they find was stress is when people People always say, like, I just want to be less busy. I just want to be less stress. And then they’re less busy and they’re depressed. Yeah, right. Right. And so it’s actually about like, how do you find meaning? Sure. And so finding meaningful work, right? Like, you’re probably always going to be pretty busy, if you’re doing meaningful work. And so it’s really more about like, how do you find that, that balance and of course, like, having rest and recovery is so essential, but getting to a place where you can, where you can find some peace and, and own your decision, right? I mean, I like for myself, I think I spent a lot of years just feeling guilty one way or another. And I think that came for me, like from culture. And it’s like my own pressure, more more, really, than other people. But it’s like, once I got rid of that, it’s like, oh, well, this feels much better. So, yeah. Okay, so how do you how do you balance, love and work? How do you balance? work life and home life? Maybe Ann? Tell us? I don’t know.
Ann Steele 36:34
Yeah, this is a popular topic, but I just think no one’s figured it out. There is a balance. And recently, I heard something that sort of rang true to me. Yeah, I don’t know who to attribute this to, was somewhere out there. And we’ll attribute it. But they, they were just saying how they’re, they didn’t believe in work life balance, because you just try to find the thing that is most important for you to focus on at that moment. Whether it’s, you know, going to your kids classroom for their classroom, Valentine’s Day party last week, or if it is, you know, going to a dinner meeting with with a potential new client or business partner. That thing so just finding like the right thing at the right time. I don’t think you can ever something’s gonna something’s always gonna give Yeah, right. Yeah. Something’s always gonna give. And you have to also I think the important piece of that is, and this is by far the hardest part is trying to find time for yourself.
Dr. Melissa Smith 37:51
yeah, amen. Yeah.
Ann Steele 37:53
I mean, that’s any moms challenge. But especially like a working mom, because you feel that added pressure of, Okay, if I’m not working, then I need to be with the kids.
Ali Poulsen 38:07
I mean, when when they go to sleep, then you need to make sure the laundry is done, or, you know, like, there’s always more to do that the list of things to do at night, like, for the couple hours that I have after they go to bed is pretty long. And so I’ve kind of just come to the realization of, Okay, here’s my list. I get one thing done. And I’ve got to be okay with that. Because I need some downtime to absolutely just read a book, watch a TV show, like, just just to shut things off. To be still to just be still so I’ll be like, okay, so tonight on sleep. Sleep. Yeah, anything, take a bath. You know, those those luxuries? I know. And so I’ll be like, Hey, this is the one thing or these are the two things I’m getting done tonight. Yeah. And I’m okay with nothing else on the list getting done. Yeah. You know, instead of running around like a crazy person. Yeah. And then being disappointed at the end of the day, you know, so I’ve kind of had to let go. Yeah.
Dr. Melissa Smith 39:06
Which is, which is probably a pretty significant shift for many, right for many of us as write like high achieving women, when you think about, like, letting go of some things on that list. But it’s, I mean, absolutely, it’s essential because you will make yourself crazy.
Ali Poulsen 39:27
You’ll be exhausted and I’m no good the next day because my Yeah, still tired from the previous day. So yeah, yeah, I’ve tried to kind of reset my own expectations. I think for myself, yeah. Of what can I get done? Yeah. And just yeah, doing the most important things. And you know, and when my my boys are awake, and that they are right now at 16 months old, they are the most important thing. Yeah, when I’m at work, right. So I have to be like You know, nothing else is gonna get done food. Dinner probably won’t get me. Except my husband cooks so he always makes sure that happens. Check. I know. Yeah. Um, but yeah, just letting the rest of it go and then. Yeah, as far as work work life balance? Yes. I don’t know I have a I have a good setup, which has helped me to succeed. I think
Dr. Melissa Smith 40:27
You have to have your team around you.
Ali Poulsen 40:30
And people when I was pregnant, I remember other twin moms said, in fact, this one looked me right in the eyes. And she’s like, do you have a support system? And I was like, she was like, deadly serious. Like, she was like, everyone else was cheering and excited for me. And she was like, No, I’m serious, like, do you have and I was like, Well, I think I do I now that you mentioned it, I’m not sure her nervous now. Yeah. And she was like, You need to make sure you have support around you to help out. And you know, luckily, I do. I’ve got stepdaughters who are in their 20s, who are a huge help. It’s great. And family and friends and, and anatomy and anatomy, which is amazing. So I do have that. And that’s, I think, how I survive and how I can enjoy going to work in the morning, and not feel guilty. And then feel like I can spend time devoted to my boys both before and after work.
Dr. Melissa Smith 41:29
Ann Steele 41:29
Someone who really important to me, told me when I was becoming a mother that I needed to, you know, find that support. And there’s a lot of judgments, I think, cultural judgments that we have. And also women have on one another that somehow you know, we have to be the one who’s you know, doing everything for the child. Yeah. And she’s told me that, to look at it from a different perspective, to look at it as you are basically opening up your, your child’s world to more love.
Dr. Melissa Smith 42:09
Yeah, I love that
Ann Steele 42:10
And so I’ve always tried to look at it that way. And that’s helped and and realize that, when I’m letting you know, my friends, or people that I pay, like, you know, a daycare provider, babysitter, something like that. They are just more people to fill my child’s world with love. Yeah, you know, they’ve created some really wonderful relationships.
Dr. Melissa Smith 42:35
Yeah, absolutely. Well, and, and our perceptions are so powerful. I mean, I grew up with a working mother. I mean, my mother was always working. And I was I was a daycare kid, you know, maybe that explains that. But it was like, it was a lovely experience. And when I think about my daycare provider had the same daycare provider, as long as I was in daycare. And, you know, I don’t think of her as, you know, this, a sterile daycare provider, right? Like, she was Regina. And like, she was like a grandmother to me, and it’s exactly what you speak to. Right? It was another loving person, another loving adult, in my life. And so I think, you know, sometimes we can, you know, we can just get hard on ourselves or, you know, get a get a little to get a little too judgmental of ourselves in that process. So, tell me, so for each of you. What, what is, what’s one thing that you know, now about yourself, either, you know, as a leader, or as a mother, I’ll let you choose one or the other that that you wish you would have known a few years ago. So if you could kind of go back and give yourself some advice about like, Okay, this is something that I’ve learned along the way. I wish I could have learned it a little, a little sooner
Ali Poulsen 44:15
Ann Steele 44:16
Yeah, it is a good question. I think for me right now, the thing that resonates the most is to trust in myself.
Dr. Melissa Smith 44:22
Oh, that’s so big.
Ann Steele 44:24
And you know, like going out so as I said earlier, I’ve been in business for five years on my own. But I started off with a business partner whom we just separated and I bought the entire 100% of the business. Oh, wow, that business partner at the end of the year. And I, while I appreciate that relationship very much. I also wish I had trusted myself that I could have done it not been so If dependent, or I almost fooled myself into thinking I needed somebody else to help me in this, and I could have done it on my own, I just and I did it on my own. For all intents and purposes, it just took me a few years to figure out that I was already doing it. Yeah. Absolutely. And I think that goes, you know, it goes for that can translate to motherhood as well, for sure. So just trust in yourself. And that’s, I mean, that’s obviously easier said than done. I battle with that every single day
Dr. Melissa Smith 45:34
Oh, it’s a big one, isn’t it?
Ann Steele 45:36
Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s not I mean, we’re talking about these things that we figured out, you know, so eloquently today. Every day, sometimes Every moment is a struggle.
Dr. Melissa Smith 45:51
Well, and this is what I’ve learned also, is that, like, I keep figuring out the same lesson. Yes. You know, and every time I’m like, oh, like, okay, like, yeah, feels good to figure that out. It’s like, oh,
Ann Steele 46:02
Dr. Melissa Smith 46:02
Oh I just got hit upside the head, because I need to figure it out. In a bigger way. Yeah. So
Ann Steele 46:09
well, I find so much like, like, in that situation. There’s so much of me that we know, that wants to be loved and nurtured. And I’m just like, I fell into that trap. I am a strong woman.
Dr. Melissa Smith 46:26
Yeah. Absolutely. That’s great. Yeah. trusting yourself. That’s, that’s such a big one. Yeah, I think. Yeah. Dido, that’s it. That’s a big one. What about you, Ali?
Ali Poulsen 46:38
Um, I think what I’ve had to do and, and, you know, one thing I’ve done is, I’ve kind of come in the, in the footsteps or the shadows of everyone else. So I’ve been reaching out to people who’ve gone before me, you know, and so I am always collected. I feel like I’ve got a lot of great advice from people who have been there before me, but But the other thing I’ve think I’ve tried to do more recently is to just give yourself a pass on some things like, like I sometimes admin lay, you know, when you’re completely exhausted and not sleeping, because people are waking up at all hours, and, you know, whatever, that I have not probably acted the way I would want to, you know, responded totally. And, you know, it’s, I but I have to just be like, you know, what, it’s okay. Learn from it. Maybe not do it again, don’t lose your patience quite so fast. But don’t be so don’t be so hard on yourself like this, the situation maybe that you’re in and kind of that self reflection of Okay, well, that wasn’t Well, let’s think about how, how we can do that better next time. Yeah. But not to beat yourself up over it? Absolutely. I think that’s kind of what I’ve learned both. Both probably in my work and at home. You know, both are there are? There are things you learn every day of, Oh, I probably should not have, like responded to that email. quite that way. Next time. Maybe I’ll sit on it for Yeah, before I hit send. I make sure that’s what I want the message I want to send Yeah, you know, something like that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 48:23
Absolutely, yeah. So it builds in that self awareness and self reflection. And then like, you learn, right, so. So I love that. So from Ann kind of hearing that self trust, and then also from you, Ali, the, you know, not only this self awareness and self reflection, but forgiveness, right, because I think for so many of us, like we’re just hard on ourselves so hard on ourselves,
Ali Poulsen 48:48
Especially when you look around, you’re like, she’s got to figure it out. Like that’s amazing. I can’t believe what she can do. And then you realize, wait, once I start talking to this person, we don’t have it figured out.
Dr. Melissa Smith 49:01
This is the truth. None of us have it, but this is what’s beautiful, right? Like when we can all show up as learners, right? Like what we’re talking about. Like we can all figure it out together. We don’t have to have it.
Ali Poulsen 49:15
You appreciate that honesty
Ann Steele 49:17
Yeah, it’s really yeah, I’ve noticed that especially in the last few years, how, especially in business, the business that I’m in, it’s very, it’s very male dominated. Yeah, I would imagine. And it’s really competitive, especially when you’re dealing with like federal contracts and sharing. So there’s, I mean, everybody plays this game, but it’s so hard to find people who you can just kind of you can be honest, with the good and the bad. So I try to, I try to I guess bring my authenticity to you know, people I meet with that potentially I want to do business with and and kind of try try out there. relationship that way. See ya. Oh, that didn’t scare them off. And
Dr. Melissa Smith 50:05
It’s got to be refreshing. I imagine.
Ann Steele 50:08
It feels a lot better. And I think it makes it makes your life your it makes your life happier. I mean, we spend we all spend so much time at work or thinking about work. Yes. And if we’re not enjoying and loving what we’re doing is just going to make our life miserable. Absolutely. And that’s going to reflect in our family.
Dr. Melissa Smith 50:29
Yep. Yep. And in the quality of the work we produce. So, yeah.
Dr. Melissa Smith 50:35
Wow, ladies, it has been so lovely visiting with both of you. I feel like I’ve learned so much so and I and I am confident this will be really valuable to our listeners. So thank you so much. Any, any last words of wisdom? I mean, there’s been so much but in any final words or thought my
Ali Poulsen 50:53
Only final words is that I am just constantly learning, like I said from others. And so I appreciate conversations like this, because I learned so much from everyone else. I feel very new to you know, my current my current situation. So,
Dr. Melissa Smith 51:12
Ann Steele 51:13
I’d say, you know, again, trust in yourself, you know, trust in your capabilities to do difficult things, and just have a great team. Absolutely. And try as hard as you can to nurture yourself.
Dr. Melissa Smith 51:32
Yeah, that’s great. Yeah, those are great. final words. That’s, that’s perfect. So make sure you head on over to my website to check out the show notes with all the great resources for this. episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-46 one more time. That’s www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-46. I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
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