Hello everyone, welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Career. I'm your host, Stacy Mayer, and super excited, as always, to be here with you again this week. So Executive Ahead of Time is in full swing in 2022 and I am so thrilled to be welcoming so many new corporate badasses into our community that is now open to lifetime enrollment. So, one of the amazing things about that decision to change into lifetime enrollment is that I was able to welcome back all of the corporate badasses who graduated from the program last year; and so now they're able to re-engage with the community and they've been sharing updates. And almost weekly we get another update from somebody who says, 'I took the program in March of 2021, and I'm happy to announce I've been officially promoted twice since then'. And so that's really exciting to celebrate.
But it also gives women the opportunity to join the program whenever they want to join. And the earlier that you join, obviously, the more coaching and the more benefit you get. But, when we have that instinct, that gut feeling that says, 'Hey, I'm ready to do something different, I'm ready to make a change, I'm ready to start empowering myself in my career' - you kind of want to act on it. And usually the beginning of the year - January 1st - creates that excitement and that enthusiasm. But like most people, we decide, 'okay, this is going to be my year.' I'm going to do something different and then we make ourselves do it. We make ourselves do all the work. So, this year I'm going to exercise more. I'm going to do more meal planning like whatever that might be - more pressure on ourselves.
But the thing that I have really found that has actually worked for me is when I have that gut instinct that I want to do something different - now what I do is I look outside of myself and I actually say, 'Who can I get to hold me accountable for this so that this year I actually make that leap. This year I actually do something different.' And we've had so many women join the group since January 1st, and they're really the ones who are saying, 'Okay, not only am I committed to doing something different for my career this year and really getting the recognition that I deserve, but I'm going to join a group so that I make sure that actually happens. I'm going to work with an expert who really understands what it takes to get promoted into senior executive leadership positions. And so, I'm really thrilled to have them and welcome them into the group and if you're interested in joining us, just sign up after you listen to this podcast episode, go to ExecutiveAheadofTime.com and join us. Because we have a coaching call every single Wednesday and we are welcoming you - right and left - and we just cannot wait to get you inside of the group and get you the recognition that you deserve. So super excited about that.
Another interesting thing that I was invited to do this week is to speak at a virtual summit on escaping a toxic work environment without burning bridges. And I was invited by a colleague of mine named Liz St. Jean, and she reached out to me last year because she was looking for speakers who could speak on how to network without burning bridges. And as many of you know, I have a formula for this. It's called 15-minute ally meetings - how we can network internally and build relationships. We can also expand our network at our organization without throwing our boss under the bus. And this process works beautifully for so many women, and I teach it every single day inside of the program. So, I was happy to give a presentation on this topic and really share my wisdom with everybody inside of this summit that is coming up. And I wanted to share with you something else that I've been thinking about - which is this idea of a toxic work environment - and what that means for us and how we can start to deal with that environment in a way that really serves us as leaders and allows us to step into our power versus letting us bring us down.
So, the first thing that I want to mention before I start to talk about that is when Liz first reached out to me, I was very hesitant to say yes. And the reason was, because I didn't want this to be a summit about a bunch of people complaining about the corporate world and the awful work environments and the awful work conditions. And we feel very helpless, so we have to escape and get out of our jobs and go find another one because we're so helpless. And this is the exact opposite of my core value of ownership. Which is: we focus on what we can control, and we leave everything else to the wayside. This is something that if you've been listening to my podcast, you know that I believe in very much so. That our career, our promotion path is one hundred percent within our control. But the good news is, is that I knew that Liz was different and because she was putting on this summit that it wasn't going to be a summit about people complaining about their toxic work environments and woe is me. This was actually a summit that was set up for empowerment and to be able to give leaders the tools to escape the toxic work environment and really regain control of their careers.
And I thought that was a very, very important distinction, and I'm super excited to participate in that workshop or that summit this week. And if you are interested in this summit, coincidentally, you can actually still sign up. I think it starts on January 16th. All of the speaking, all of the videos are available to you on demand. I believe it's free, so go to TheMintAmbition.com/summit to sign up and get your free ticket. I highly recommend it.
And then now I want to talk about my take on toxic work environments and what we can really do about it to continue to stay in an empowered place and own our careers, essentially. So, the first thing that I'm going to say is - might be a little off putting for some of you, but I want you to really realize this. And the earlier that you can embrace this fact - which I actually think it's a bit of a fact and I'll tell you why in a minute - then the better off you're going to be. If you work at an organization that has more than 50 employees, you work in a toxic work environment. I'm going to say that again, if you work at an organization that has more than 50 employees, you work in a toxic work environment.
Now there are all kinds of different shades of gray here where you maybe have a more toxic environment than others or less toxic environment than others. But I really want you to think about that. And actually, in some small startups that are under 50 people, it could still be an incredibly toxic environment. And the reason why I say this as actually something to note and something to embrace and something to understand is because once you understand that that is the norm, that that is the nature - now here is where I'm going to get into why I believe that is true - is because that is the nature of us as human beings, as people.
We are inherently flawed human beings. And we do work, listen to this podcast, and take trainings to try and be able to be a better person, a better leader, a more inclusive leader. But even through our best, most magnificent efforts, we are flawed. And the sooner that you can embrace your flaws, the sooner you're going to be able to embrace the flaws of other people. So, let's just say that if we work for other human beings, we work in a toxic work environment. Let's just say that that is true, that that is actually a fact, and we can go ahead and dig in and find evidence of it.
Well, the first people that are going to come to mind are the people that are incredibly toxic externally. So those are the people who are racist, the people who have been putting us down, the people who yell, they have zero emotional intelligence, the people who don't listen to us, that don't give us the time of the day, that actually sabotage our efforts to get promoted - all kinds of things that could happen in work environments. And they do happen on a regular basis - just complete blatant sexism, racism, whatever that might be that happens to us on a regular basis - that is a toxic work environment.
And then we have the next layer, which are the microaggressions. So, here's a really great example of a microaggression that you may not have ever thought of. So, there is a woman in my Executive Ahead of Time program, and she kept saying that her boss consistently says to her, 'I don't know how you do it all.' That's what he says to her. So that seems kind of benign. It's not really, and her boss is a good person. It's fine. I'm not saying that it's bad people who are creating these toxic work environments. Again, like I said, we're all flawed. It's important to look at our own flaws and the perpetuation that we bring to the table, creating our own toxic work environments for ourselves and for our team.
So, I'm not saying that he's a bad person, but he makes these comments literally like every day to her. And why? Because she has three small children at home. She works her butt off. She's so amazing at her job. She needs to be receiving comments like, 'You're amazing. Here's a promotion. Here's more money. I want to invite you into this meeting with the CEO.' But instead, he makes these little offhanded comments every now and then that are just like, 'Wow, I just really don't know how you do it all. It's so hard.'.
And so, what does this do? What does this do to her? It puts her back in her place. It makes her think maybe this is hard. 'Wow, you know, I am doing too much.' It reminds her that he is better than her because he doesn't have all of these responsibilities. He can just focus on his work. But she has to do it all. So, these are subtle microaggressions. And even when you hear that you may be like, 'Well, that's not really that big a deal.' It just depends. Sometimes it is. It's those little subtle jabs over and over again that we experience, especially when we don't look like the rest of the room, over and over and over again.
Now, let's say you look like the rest of the room. Now, you are a classic case for perpetuating - for perpetuating the toxic environment - because you're so oblivious, you're just hanging out with your friends. You're just engaging in conversation, and you don't even notice the people that you're excluding in the room. And you're like, 'Well, again, I'm not a bad person. I'm incredibly inclusive in other areas of my life.' But - and now this gets into the second reason why I feel like we all work in toxic work environments if we work with other human beings. But at the end of the day, we care about ourselves.
Even if we are so magnificent at servant leadership, like that is our calling. We very, very much care about other people and in giving back and all of those altruistic things. Even if that's our nature and that's who we are, at our core, we do that because of how it makes us feel. And so, we give back in this way because it reminds us of our gratitude, it helps us live a better life.
And so, when you're getting feedback from your boss - who also has their own agenda, even if their agenda isn't so blatantly obviously self-driven - they still mostly are trying to figure things out for themselves. So, they're trying to get promoted themselves. They're trying to navigate the political system at work. And so, then they're offering you advice from their perspective, from their lens, from their way that they see the world. This is the only thing that we can do as humans. We all see the world differently. And the best that we can do is try and notice our behaviors and make a different choice. And that is so, so, so important.
And that is why I wanted to get today's episode to say that we all work in toxic work environments. All of us. So even if you've been able to join a team that doesn't feel as toxic as maybe your previous team did -you still work for an organization that is going to have crappy people. We work with other people. There are people who do 'not nice' things, even if they don't mean to. So now we notice. We say, 'Yeah, isn't that interesting?'.
Why is it so important for us to know that we all work in toxic work environments? It's because of one single thing. If we all work in toxic work environments, then we let go of 'woe is me'. We let go of feeling sorry for ourselves. We let go of questioning our ability to lead. So, if you really realize that your boss has their own agenda and their boss has their own needs that they're trying to fulfill, when they're giving you advice about your career, then you can start to think for yourself.
You can stop questioning whether or not you're ready to get promoted. You can stop wondering - maybe I just don't fit in here. You can stop thinking, well, if I leave this environment, I'm going to go get another job. So, we do the 'grass is greener'. So, I love that this summit is escaping a toxic work environment and it's not about how to quit your job. And when I first read it, that's what I was worried about. I was like, 'No, I don't teach people how to quit their job. I empower women to take ownership of their career.' Two very different things. We might leave our company or our organization, but we're bringing a very powerful self to that new role.
And so, when we start to think about escaping a toxic environment, and we've realized that all environments are toxic, then we go into the new opportunity or the new role with a new lens. We understand that we're going to do things differently. So, for example, if we're working in an environment that seems like it's just constantly beating us down; and I have this example with one of the women inside of my Leadership Table, the advanced group for women who really want to master executive leadership. And she was in the same job for five years that she would call a toxic environment. And she knows that when she finds a new position, it is not going to be 'grass is greener'. And I think the embrace of that says, 'Oh, well, what can I focus on then? What can I control? And the answer is always, 'You'.
We cannot control other people's behavior. We can't control how other people think. We can't control how other people treat us. But we can control how we show up and how we treat ourselves. So, what I shared with her is that what she knows now is that she won't stay in that environment for as long as she did. She won't entertain, 'Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm the problem. Maybe it's not the environment that I'm in, but it's my fault. It's my problem. I screwed this up. I did this wrong.' And then we'll just move on. So even if she finds herself in a similar situation again, she is going to move on sooner. It's just the facts.
Once our eyes are open to this stuff, we can't unsee it. I see microaggressions that happen to my corporate badasses all the time. They'll point out something and I'm like, 'What? They said what?' Like even something as simple as 'well, you know, it's much harder for you because you're a woman.' And then you start to internalize that, and you think, 'Oh, maybe it is harder for me. Maybe I am doing something wrong.' Or maybe this person has their own problems. Maybe the person who is saying that to you has a warped perception of the world. And so now you can do something about it. You actually have the power to shift, to change, to make different choices in your career, because no matter where you go, you're always going to be finding yet another toxic work environment.
A couple of months ago, I interviewed the author Minda Harts, who wrote the incredible book Right Within: How to Heal from Racial Trauma in the Workplace, and I highly recommend it. It's stories from over 200 women who have overcome racial trauma in the workplace. And in this book, what she is sharing is not the 'woe is me' story. It is not the 'Oh, feel sorry for these women because these terrible things happen to them'. What she is doing is - she is shining light on an epidemic, on a problem inside of organizations when we work with 50 or more people. This is everywhere, and this is not an excuse for this behavior. But when you start to see that other women experience trauma as well - and honestly, other men, other everybody - that we all experience and participate in toxic behavior in the workplace. Now we can actually do something about it, and that something that I suggest is to regain power, regain your ownership.
And when you read these stories, some of these women, they didn't necessarily take down the system. They didn't go and fight the battle publicly. They fought the battles internally. They got over their own demons, their own PTSD, honestly, understanding that when you are in a toxic work environment, it stays with you from job to job to job to job to job, until you do the work for yourself to honestly forgive yourself. To know that this was not your fault, you did not create this toxic work environment. And then what are you going to do? Something different. You are going to make different choices. So, the next time you don't find yourself in this downward spiral. You're going to move faster. You're going to get out of it. You're going to speak up - whatever that might feel right for you - that next best step. That next thing for you that regains your own truth, your own power.
Because what we need the most is you to be in a position of influence and authority at your organization or at any organization because you - only you - no one else. It's not even the responsibility of your diversity and inclusion department. Nobody else except for you is going to make the change. When you get yourself into those higher positions of authority and influence, you can be the change that you want to see at your organization.
This is how I am changing organizations from the C-suite out. I am bringing you into a higher-level executive position so that we can shift this toxic behavior. We need to stop pretending that it doesn't exist or that it only exists for me. And we need to remind ourselves that we can do something about it. And by doing something about it, I don't mean calling the press and whistleblowing on our organization - while that can totally be the thing we're going to do about it - It can also just be saying, 'Screw this, I'm going to focus on what I can control. I'm going to get myself into that position of influence, and I am going to start to make the impact that I want to be making in this world.'.
I am so excited to participate in this upcoming conference, and I definitely encourage you to join us. If you do join, and you listen to this episode, say 'hi' inside of the Facebook group, let me know. My presentation, like I said, is going to be on demand so you can learn more about my process for networking internally without throwing your boss under the bus. And really, I just - I'm so excited that Liz is spreading this message and empowering leaders everywhere to really regain control and to take back their career. Thank you so much for listening, and I'll see you next week. Bye.