Joe: On this episode of the "CBD University Podcast", a special episode as we highlight Women in Leadership at Global Widget in honor of International Women's Day on Sunday, March 8th, 2020. I sit down with two team members who are champions of our efforts to empower women in the workplace. We'll discuss our program here at Global Widget, promoting personal growth and professional development. It's a special edition of the "CBD University Podcast" and it starts right now.
I'm Joe Agostinelli, the host of the "CBD University Podcast" and, if you're a returner, we thank you once again for tuning back into our podcast. If you are a new listener or viewer to our podcast because you can see full video episodes on our YouTube channel, I welcome you to our podcast. I'm glad you found us and we invite you to subscribe on your favorite podcast app or on YouTube. And this is a special episode, whether you've listened before, watched before, or new to our podcast. So many times I had the privilege of talking about our products and industry trends and news with industry leaders and our in-house experts. And, in this episode, we're getting away from the products and a little bit about the industry and really highlighting a great initiative we have here at Global Widget. And joining me, in honor of International Women's Day, which is celebrated annually...this year, it's on Sunday, March the 8th. I'm joined by two of our leaders who head up our Lean In Circle @Global Widget, Director of eCommerce, Gina Bongiovanni, and Vice President of Human Resources, Leanna von Merveldt. Welcome both of you to our podcast.
Leanna: Thank you so much for having us. We're excited.
Gina: Excited to be back with you, Joe.
Joe: Gina, the last time you and I were here for a podcast, we were decked out in our ugly Christmas sweaters, the studio was all decorated for Christmas and we were talking about our holiday gift guide and here we are now almost into March of 2020. Time has certainly flown by.
Gina: Oh, my goodness, you're absolutely right about that. I feel like I'm disappointing you with my very plain office attire today.
Joe: [crosstalk 00:02:05.228] wore a tie for that episode and, here, it's like we'll unbutton at the collar, no hat, no tie, so kind of going a little lax there. But anyhow both of you had been a part of our Lean In Circle @Global Widget program since it's launched, and now you lead our meetings which we usually hold a couple of times a month, every couple weeks. What have you learned since the launch of the program and what excites you the most about this initiative? And, Gina, I'll start with you.
Gina: Joe, I'm so passionate about this. I really believe in the concept of women empowering other women. You know, there's that saying of, like, "Don't try to take off another woman's crown. Help her straighten it," and I really am a firm believer in that. And I'm seeing that in practice through this Lean In Circle all the time. We've got all walks of life, all age groups, people from all different functions within the business, and I have found that the people who motivate me most are not necessarily the people you would think, so it's not people that are always senior to me. A lot of times I'm learning from people in a completely different walk of life who have the same sort of struggles that I do. And it's just been incredibly empowering and liberating getting to know them, and I feel that we're doing really good work here.
Joe: And, Leanna, what have you learned so far?
Leanna: Well, I definitely second everything that Gina said but, in addition to that, one thing you really sometimes forget is that everybody has their insecurities. Some of the most put-together professionals, senior members even have insecurities, and being able to hear about how others deal with them, how they've overcome them, allowing people to share those experiences really not only helps me but it helps others overcome some of those insecurities. And it's insecurities both at work but also in their personal lives as well.
Joe: Yeah, and you guys talk about workplace issues and development and also personal issues and development.
Joe: What are the goals of the program since it's launched?
Gina: So, with our Lean In Circle, we are trying to, like I said, give a voice to the women leaders that we have here both mentoring up as well as down, I guess you could say, where you have a lot of folks that are in management, directors, VPs, really getting good mentor ship from them but then also a lot of us that are in those more senior positions, really learning and being able to kind of teach and share our experiences with them as well. So, that's a goal for us. We also have had the opportunity to listen to some really amazing presentations by folks like Shonda Rhimes, Sheryl Sandberg. One of the things that I got out of that was Shonda Rhimes did an entire episode, a whole speech on just finding that hum in your life. It's so easy to do something for a long time, something that you love, but to be able to draw that passion from it again and be able to kind of come back to center with that, I thought that was such a powerful presentation.
The other one that I really loved is we're in a series now by Joanna Barsh in the McKinsey group. And that one is a centered leadership and we're talking a lot about finding your strengths and drawing meaning from everything in your life. So, there are things that you are good at but then there are things that you are strong from and things that you draw strength from and going back to that place of center. And then also how you would manage conflict resolution through framing and being able to kind of step outside of your body a little bit, see yourself in a movie, and then take that deep breath, have that calming impact moment where you reassess.
So, very long-winded answer, too. Just everything about it is kind of amazing truly.
Joe: And, Leanna, maybe from an HR perspective, I mean some of the goals of the program.
Leanna: Well, for me, the goals of the program is to be able to build an internal networking group with our ladies here at Global Widget. I guess you can call it a support group, but, you know, for us to draw on each other's experiences, help us to take those professional risks that maybe we wouldn't otherwise do without having that internal support group. So, my answer's a little bit more concise but....
Joe: It's all right. We appreciate the concise... It's all right. It's a perfect follow-up.
Leanna: We balance each other.
Joe: What has been the reception of the program from different employees? And, Leanna, I'll start with you this time.
Leanna: I think it's been really positive. Gina and I talked a little bit about, you know, some of the people that you wouldn't necessarily expect to be regular attendees at the meeting have been the ones that are attending and really, you know, sharing their experiences, asking questions. I think overall we have the support of leaders across the organization both men and women, which has been really great. We did a panel discussion with both the men and women leaders within the organization, and the participation was wonderful to get both perspectives from that. So, I would say it's positive.
Gina: Yeah, I agree with Leanna 100%. You know, I think that it's been amazing to see the kind of people that we've attracted. I also think, as far as some of the men kind of joining in and being a part of that panel, it's wonderful for them to get the female perspective as ell. So, you know, being able to really understand some of the unique challenges that are presented to us as moms, as wives, as sisters, as friends, and being able to kind of apply that, too, what the workplace is like. That's been amazing.
And the other part that I really love about it is, for me personally, I feel very connected. And that's a real motivator for me having those personal connections. I think, in our role, as both Leanna and myself, a lot of times we're asking people to do something. So it's so nice to be able to have these encounters where you're just sort of getting to know each other a little bit and, you know, forming that deeper bond.
Joe: And something I want to hit on and, Leanna, you mentioned that it's important to point out that the leadership team here is behind the program and there was indeed a panel of men and women leaders that you guys had not too long ago, so the support from leadership has been good with the program.
Leanna: Absolutely, absolutely. They encourage their employees to attend. It's a scheduled time and, you know, they've asked a lot of questions about it. It's been great. I really appreciate that support.
Joe: Now, what are some of the topics that have been covered from time to time in this ongoing series?
Leanna: I'll jump into that and answer that first because I'll tell you my favorite topic so far was my year of saying yes. It's the whole reason I'm doing this podcast. It's committing to doing one thing that scares you or that takes you out of your comfort zone, it's almost that professional challenge, or also making time for the things that you feel you might be too busy for, you know, like self-care, like taking care of yourself, working out. So far, it's probably been my favorite meeting so far. We've also started with, "Allow yourself to be brilliant." That's putting yourself first, reaching for those extra few centimeters to strut yourself and what you can do to make it a little bit better.
Right now, we're in a leadership series, which Gina touched on, and then upcoming in, I think, a month or so from now, which I know is a challenge for a lot of people is taming your fear of public speaking and kind of getting over that anxiety that comes with public speaking.
Gina: Yeah, I love that, Leanna, [inaudible 00:09:29] I loved that series as well. One of the things that I'm really looking forward to is our Lean In Circle started off with somebody that kind of came in was our moderator, and she was just amazing. In fact, she's the reason why I agreed to kind of step in with Leanna and kind of take the series over. Part of it was a year of saying yes and I thought, "Dadgummit, why did I agree to say yes?" No. But I thought this is such a meaningful way to spend our time and everybody's busy but, to carve out that one hour every couple weeks, it just feels like such a great use of time.
But what I love so much is that we're going to be moving the series to a place where people are going to actually agree to kind of host moderate for us. So, I'm so excited about that, Joe. We've got a particular person that's on my mind who is a yogi and she's just really amazing with meditation and calming techniques. And so she has graciously agreed to help us moderate that particular session. So, giving others a voice, allowing them to express their time and talent I just think is a huge plus to what this program is all about.
Joe: Awesome. Sounds like so much good going on with the program, and that leads to my next question is, for other workplaces and folks in other workplaces who may be thinking of setting up something similar, what advice would you have for them for some type of in-house networking group to enhance personal growth, professional development?
Leanna: Well, I think getting buy-in from leadership is definitely key because you are. I mean you're setting aside an hour every, you know, in our case, two weeks. It could be once a month but you're pulling away from your regular work duties, right, but there's still so much benefit to it from a professional standpoint but making sure you have that buy-in so that, you know, leaders will, you know, be okay when their team members step out to go to this meeting. I think that's really key. And I think, you know, keeping the group size, you know, not super small but you don't want to get them too big.
Leanna: Intimate. That's a good word. Thank you. Because you want people to feel comfortable sharing their experiences, sharing their insecurities, and their fears, and what they're hoping to accomplish professionally. You want people to feel comfortable sharing. So you don't want it to be overly large. Intimate is the right word, I would say, for that.
Gina: That was my only word. That's my only contribution. So, yeah, 100% agree with Leanna and I think, you know, do it. Just take the plunge and do it. I was really nervous. I thought there's no way I'm going to do justice to this amazing program. I mean here's Gina Bongiovanni and there's Shonda Rhimes. Like, really, you know? So I was really nervous about that, but what I've learned is there's so much material out there available for you. There's videos and study guides. Really it's maybe an hour, hour and a half of my time to prepare for it. And the beautiful part is I'm a terrible presenter. I have the worst PowerPoint skills on the planet. I constantly am streaming weird stuff on the machine or the TV, but it's totally fine because you're in such a comfortable setting where we're all exposing our foibles and those pieces of us that are vulnerable. And that's we're there to do is to really bolster each other up. I love that.
Leanna: She doesn't give herself enough credit.
Gina: Leanna. She's amazing.
Joe: Both of you, keep up the awesome work. I've had the privilege of promoting the program across the social media networks, and I want to thank both of you for appearing on this episode of the "CBD University Podcast".
Leanna: Thank you so much.
Gina: Always a pleasure, Joe. Definitely.
Joe: As I mentioned, you could see all the happenings of our Lean In Circle program by following us on our social media networks. We're always sharing the good stuff that our team members are doing on an ongoing basis here at Global Widget.
I want to thank you for listening to this special episode of the "CBD University Podcast" as we highlight International Women's Day and our Women in Leadership program here, the Lean In Circle program @Global Widget. If you have not yet done so, I invite you to subscribe to our podcast on your favorite podcast app and don't forget that you can see full video episodes of our podcast on the Global Widget YouTube channel and the YouTube channel of our brands.
I'm Joe Agostinelli, the host of the "CBD University Podcast". Thanks for tuning in.
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