Want to know the key to getting promoted and solving just about any problem you will ever face in your career?
Executive-level communication is an absolute prerequisite for advancing to the executive suite.
And this is so good for YOU, because making tiny shifts in how you’re communicating right now will give you MASSIVE rewards.
☑️ Getting out of the weeds
☑️ Showing up powerfully in meetings
☑️ Owning your leadership style
☑️ Shifting how the leadership team perceives you
☑️ Advancing to the executive suite
☑️ And being recognized as the amazing, strategic leader you already are
And while communication is at the core of everything I teach you here on this podcast, I know there are still some super simple communication mistakes you are making in your career right now that are causing you to be glossed over by the leadership team.
And that’s exactly why I invited Karen Laos onto this episode of Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer.
Karen is a corporate leader turned professional speaker and all-around communication badass who helps women in business speak with clarity and stand out with unshakable confidence.
Plus, she’s worked with incredible clients like NASA, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Sephora, AT&T, Levi’s and United Healthcare.
In this episode, we dive into tips and strategies that will help you communicate like an executive leader, including how to speak confidently from the stage or boardroom, how to get back on track when you find yourself rambling, why you need to stop taking feedback on your communication personally, and so much more.
There are so many super practical tips in this episode. Grab a pen and paper and hit play now.
Want to receive the recognition you deserve, step into a higher leadership position, get paid for your ideas instead of the hours you put in at work, and enjoy more time, freedom, energy, and joy? Then you need to get your hands on a copy of Promotions Made Easy. Get your copy here.
What You'll Learn:
- Why ‘asking’ is Karen’s #1 secret to success
- How women misrepresent themselves through how they speak
- The 3 D’s for women who are trying to advance their career and find their voice
- Why good feedback is critical to growth
- Why awareness is step #1 to owning your voice
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
- Listen to my interview on Karen’s podcast, Ignite Your Confidence with Karen Laos
- Read Karen’s book, Trust Your Own Voice: Growing Your Influence Through Confident Communication
- Read Keith Bailey Karen Leland’s book, Customer Service For Dummies
- Join Karen’s private Facebook group
- Visit Karen’s website
- Follow Karen on Instagram
- Connect with Karen on LinkedIn
- Connect with me on LinkedIn
- Join my group coaching intensive, Executive Ahead of Time
- Get your copy of my book, Promotions Made Easy: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Executive Suite
- Go to StacyMayer.com/Strategies to join my email list and receive my email series, Seven Promotion Strategies that Your Boss Won’t Tell You
Stacy Mayer: Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Career. I'm your host, Stacy Mayer, and I am super excited to be here with you again this week because I have a very special guest who is actually I think she's right down the street from me here in Berkeley, Oakland, California. And we didn't really know that when we first met on LinkedIn. You can meet somebody on LinkedIn, they can be all the way on the other side of the world, but yet it feels like they're right next door. And then the next thing I knew, she posted something and she really actually was right next door. And I was like, What? What's going on? We should meet up. We should hang out. But I love that because you get kindred spirits with very, very similar missions meeting up in person. Really, changing the world with our thought leadership. And I was like, Karen, you have to be on my podcast. She was like, Stacy, you have to be on my podcast. And and that's what we're doing. And so I will link to my interview with Karen in the show notes after we do this interview. But for now, let's get started. Karen, thank you so much for being here.
Karen Laos: Yes, well, I'm so glad that you reached out to have lunch.
Stacy Mayer: It was so great. You're going to love this episode because we have such similar missions wanting to give a voice to women in the corporate world. And we also just both wrote books and we're going to talk about all of those great things today.
Let me give you her formal bio and then we'll dive right in. Karen Laos is a former corporate leader turned professional speaker specializing in communication who's on a mission to reach 10 million women to overcome self-doubt and speak with confidence. Yes! Over the course of her 20 year career, she has helped corporate badasses at companies like Nassar, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Sephora, AT&T, Levi's and United Health Care. And she is the bestselling author of Trust Your Own Voice: Growing Your Influence Through Confident Communication. Thank you, Karen. Thank you so much for being here.
Karen Laos: You're welcome. I love that we are doing this because of exactly what you said earlier, just about the fact that our missions are so aligned and I am so into helping women step into their confidence and be those badasses, because for too many years I wasn't. So I don't want anybody else to hold themselves back.
Stacy Mayer: Exactly. Oh, it's so good. And her book is just action packed. It's like: do this, do this, do this, do this. It's like, all of these great resources. So absolutely. Get your hands on that as well. It's so, so good. So speaking of trusting your own voice, can you tell us some of your secrets to success?
Karen Laos: Yes. I would say the number one is to ask. And I vividly remember when I was a little girl around six years old, my dad taught me how to negotiate at flea markets. And he said, never pay full price. And that really was the launching point for me. Also, with his modeling of incredible persistence and determination. He had no fear asking for things. And I'm grateful. There were other qualities that I didn't love in our relationship, and that's more in my book. But that was really powerful because I always believed that I deserved whatever I wanted to ask for, and that was a very helpful tool. So I would say not being afraid to ask and ask creatively sometimes. So when I think about the creative piece, something like recently I was pitched to be part of some academy and I thought, Well, I don't want to be part of the academy. What I want is to partner with the woman leading the academy and offer my services to her, because it would be a win-win. I would help her people become better speakers and I did. So the jury's still out on that one, but it felt really good because I know that I can offer value. And I do think that a lot of times we as women hold back because we have that doubt. And believe me, I have had plenty of doubt in other areas. But that is one thing, that asking piece, was very something that I learned at an early age that I have found to be extremely helpful.
Stacy Mayer: This is really interesting because what you're talking about is this notion of deserving. And you feel like you deserve it. And no question. I'm going to just ask for it. I'm never going to take full price. But but there's this. You use the word deserving. And that's I want to unpack that for a minute, because when you explained your father's advice, he did not say you deserve it. He actually just gave you a rule. He was like: just don't take full price. It wasn't like it wasn't about deserving. It wasn't about your worth. It wasn't about value. It wasn't even knowing that you're going to provide value. It was literally just a rule. And I firmly, firmly believe that these rules actually create confidence in us. If we if we act on that rule that he's suggested, then you start to understand your own value. Can you unpack that a little bit more? Because I'm sure that one led to the other. And how do you make that connection?
Karen Laos: Yeah, and I will say it is convoluted because this is where the mixed messages from my childhood and probably like a lot of people listening to this had, where and just to give a little background on that, where my dad taught me that. But at the same time, I learned from my the modeling of my parents that you listen to an authority figure, who's usually the man, because my mom totally submitted to dad at home. And that was confusing to me because she was also a powerhouse leader in the community. I love that you said that about the deserving. You're right. It was a rule my dad was not into: Oh, you deserve this.
Stacy Mayer: Yeah, exactly. He was like, just ask.
Karen Laos: He was not a warm, nurturing person. But what I feel like where some of the well, I'll say some of the darker shadow sides of me, I guess, if you want to put it that way, are the parts about where my mom really submitted to the point where it felt like: oh, what I learned is, hmm, you don't speak up unless you have something to offer that's valuable.
Stacy Mayer: Yeah.
Karen Laos: And so I'm struggling with you asking me to unpack that. What is that about? Because here's the other thing. Can I share a quick story?
Stacy Mayer: Yeah.
Karen Laos: So on one hand, I'm saying, oh, I'm really comfortable asking directly. Just ask, ask, ask. But you've got to know what you want before you ask. I want to share a story where I missed an opportunity.
Stacy Mayer: Mm hmm.
Karen Laos: And I believe that the root cause of this was that my boss at the time was very much like my dad. In that, he was hard to read and there were mixed messages sometimes, so I would be intimidated by him. So at times I was intimidated by this boss. And I remember her vividly when I was in this corporate role. I had been at this company for many years. We were forming a new leadership team, but more specifically an organized leadership team where we were going to help really intentionally move the company forward. And she asked me to be a part of it. And I was thrilled. And I said, Yes, of course. And then, this was my passive ask. I said: Well, I really am looking forward to this. And I noticed everybody else that's in it is a director or above, and I'm a senior manager. And she goes: Oh yeah, I we'll have to figure that out at some point.
And then a few months later, I was thinking, So what ever happened with that? We I was on the leadership team at that point and then asked the CEO about it. And he gave me a roundabout answer, which was completely something I wish that I had pushed and I didn't. A year later, I'm at my annual review, fully expecting a promotion. At the end, she could sense, we had a good relationship as much as there were times I felt intimidated we had a good relationship, she said, I can tell something's off. And I said, I really thought I was getting a promotion. And she goes, What? She didn't even remember that conversation. But my mistake was, and we both chuckled about it, I said, what I would have done differently is I would have said, I want to be a director. What does it take for me to get there?
Stacy Mayer: Yes, yes, yes.
Karen Laos: And she immediately said, yes, that is what you should have said. And let's start that conversation now. But I lost eight months. And it ended up working out in the end. But I ended up leaving during the pandemic a few years later. But and I ended up creating my own job that was an even better fit. But point being, I missed an opportunity. And so I'm not really sure what to make of that related to my upbringing and the mixed messages related to deserving.
Stacy Mayer: But yeah, what it kind of reminds me of is we'll be told no. The people at our organization are going to tell us, no, you can't have that title. No, you can't have that salary. All of those things are going to happen. But if you just start from the place of having intrinsic value, you just are a valuable. And this is why I tell the women that I work with, they are a corporate badass. At the point that they join Executive Ahead Of Time, they're a corporate badass. They're corporate badass because they see what they're doing, they want to do more. All of those things qualify them as a corporate badass. And what they're going to do is sort of ask. And never pay full price. Ask and then go from there. The other person is going to tell us whatever the heck they want to tell us. And I think in your story is that because you didn't ask. Essentially, you didn't ask when you ask passively. It's the same as not asking is you ask passively. And so then she couldn't help you. You didn't have anything to bounce off of until eight months later when you actually did do the ask, which is amazing. Amazing.
Karen Laos: Well, and I'm glad that I did better say better, better late than never. And at the same time, it's of course, you always look back and go, wow, what could I have done differently?
Stacy Mayer: And I would say, you said you always look back and a lot of people don't. You and I do write. But that's also what learning. How do we learn and grow? And actually that kind of reminds me of public speaking.
So let's talk a little bit about how do we speak confidently from the stage and or in the boardroom or wherever we're giving some sort of presentation because it feels to me like an all or nothing. We could actually die. It feels like we either screw it up or we don't. Where is this idea of negotiating and asking? Kind of feels like a fluid, ongoing conversation. You can go back and you can say: Hey, what about that position? But when you give a talk, that's a one shot deal. So how do you deal with that?
Karen Laos: That sounds like a lot of pressure, Stacy.
Stacy Mayer: Right.
Karen Laos: Well, the first thing I want to say I find fascinating, because we talk about public speaking a lot. And if you really think about it, is there such a thing as private speaking unless you're talking to yourself in the shower or in the car, we are always speaking to an audience.
Stacy Mayer: Oh, my gosh, so good.
Karen Laos: If we can shift our mindset that every time we open up our mouths, we have an opportunity to influence and make an impact that makes this whole concept of public speaking, such as on a stage, and I get that there are obviously more formal situations where we're speaking, but when we can integrate ourselves into everything, just the way that we speak comes out as powerful, credible and likable, even when we're sitting in a living room talking to somebody or on an elevator or in an interview like this or conversation like this. It's not a formal interview. It's just a conversation. And yet I also seen so many women misrepresenting themselves because they end up speaking tentatively and ums and ahs and oh, a little quieter. A lot of times we just don't realize how we're coming across. So that's why also video feedback is so important because we have to know how our voice does sound. And I hear so many people will say, Well, I'm willing to record myself, but I'm not going to watch it. And I think, why would you even bother?
Karen Laos: You've got to watch it. You've got to listen back so you can hear the objective reality of how you actually are coming across and then you can do something about it. And what I find fascinating is that most of the time people are better than they think they are, probably because they spend so much time catastrophizing how bad it's going to be. And then they go, oh. It's not as bad as I thought.
Stacy Mayer: I love that. I love the idea of normalising speaking, because if we're speaking to another human being, it's public. I'm just like: Oh my God, that's brilliant. Because I think that that's where a lot of the pain and suffering comes from, is the fact that we don't get to practice it. So it's like we get that one big presentation or talk. But what you're saying is, no, we get to practice it every single day with every conversation, with every negotiation, with every person that we want to share our ideas with. We're always influencing behavior. And then that's going to lead to more confidence once you do have the talk or you do have the presentation in front of other people.
Karen Laos: Yeah, absolutely. And the thing to I love what I believe his name is, I know his name is Keith Bailey. He wrote Customer Service for Dummies, and one of the contributing authors. And he talks about moments of truth. Every interaction we have with someone is a moment of truth that adds up to a greater experience. And if we think about it, what experience are we creating for people? You hear a lot, of course, about the first impression, and that's important. And also to consider every time I open up my mouth, that's a moment of truth in which I'm creating an experience. People are making a judgment, whether it's good or bad, we don't know. We can't be attached to that outcome. But that's why I always recommend to people: Hey, you can't look at this as, Oh, I did this as: I'm coaching with Karen and I'm going to put that binder on a shelf now until I have a speaking engagement. No. But here's the problem. Most of us aren't intentional enough about our growth. And it takes work. If we don't have a compelling reason to do something, it's the same with whether it's you're trying to be healthier or work out more or whatever. If we don't have a compelling why, it's probably not going to happen. And I like to be really honest with people about that and say: look, if you're going to invest in this, you've got to be willing to do what it takes every day to integrate this into your day to day life.
Stacy Mayer: I think that today's theme from our conversation is about conflating values with the practical and even in just that advice that you just gave, the reason that we don't attack personal growth in the way that we maybe would wish that we were is because we're making it personal. And it sounds like when you're talking or you're giving feedback to somebody about their video, their presentation, you're just actually saying maybe sit up a little bit straighter or lower your voice or you're coming across this, this, whatever that might be. It's so not personal. It's a technical skill. It's nothing to do with your value as a human being. Absolutely. And when we can approach growth from that way, then we're like: oh, of course. It's not you're not overweight because you're a bad person. You just ate a bunch of cookies. It's just, like whatever.
Karen Laos: I love how fact based that is. I mean, it's so true. It's so true. And yet because we live with ourselves, it's hard to not take it personally. And yet that's what's so great about the objective reality of whether it's video feedback, audio feedback or another person giving us feedback. But, too often, yeah, we internalize it. Oh, I'm all bad. I've got all these things that we do that we make up. We make up these stories about ourselves.
Stacy Mayer: I'm not meant to be an executive leader. No. Your public speaking skills could use some polishing. So, Good.
Karen Laos: I remember when I totally bombed a presentation, but I didn't know that I bombed it. That was a very confusing experience. It was early on in my career.
Stacy Mayer: Oh, cool. Yeah, I want to hear this.
Karen Laos: Yeah. A new corporate trainer for The Gap Inc. So I was that a big corporate event, asked to speak in front of all of the executives. I thought I did pretty well. And then when I sat down, it was so funny because the woman in charge was not really good at being direct. When you understand a formula, you go: Oh, I'm supposed to ask a person, how do you think you did? But you really want to say, that sucked, and we need to talk about why. And she looked at me with this face like: how do you think you did? It was clear on her face that she was not pleased. And I just said, Oh, I thought I did pretty well. Well, then find out later, unfortunately, she didn't give me the feedback directly. That was a very bad experience hearing it through my boss and I didn't get specifics, so that was really hard for me. But I was devastated. My value to me felt like: well, obviously I didn't give value. And so I took that personally. It was really tough to recover from that. And it was my boss the next day when she told me and I said: I think I'm not even going to do corporate training anymore. I mean, I had just gotten into it, just got my feet wet, just started this job. And she said to me, Look, are you going to let one experience completely shift your decision about your career because you didn't feel good enough. Her point was: get on your big girl panties and work on the next training. You need to work on it because you you need to be doing this closer to the script. What if she gave me a little more tangible things. But then I was almost so overprepared that it was a really, really good lesson because I'm more of a winging it kind of person. So I just figured I could wing it and it wouldn't be a big deal, but it really worked out.
Stacy Mayer: Oh, that's amazing. I love that story because it also reminds me of the power of coaching. Because you could look at that story and be heartbroken for little Karen who's boss didn't tell her. They didn't tell her exactly what she did wrong. But truthfully, at work, our bosses have a job. Their job is not to make us better public speakers, but Karen Laos' job is to make you a better public speaker. And so this speaks to the power of coaching and education and getting support and realizing where the gaps might be for you.
So if you're finding yourself not wanting to raise your hand for higher positions, not wanting to step up, because you know that part of the job is going to involve speaking in front of executives and giving either presentations formally or informally, whatever that might be, there's that level of intimidation. For all means, we need you at the leadership table, get support. Figure out what you need to do to to give those talks and things. Because it's more important to me that you get the promotion than it is for you to be like: Well, I can wing it or just see or I'm not going to raise my hand.
Karen Laos: Well, I have a very specific example. Another really young age situation, early twenties. I was in a performing group for four years and I traveled around the world. And during the staging process, I didn't get any of the solo parts with the singing or the dancing, and I was okay with that, but a little disappointed. And I say that because the director was fumbling through his notes and he said, Oh, I forgot to assign this speaking part. Who wants to do the speaking part? And I wanted to raise my hand, but I didn't. And the girl next to me got that part every show. We did almost 52 shows in the year. She got it every year, and every once in a while I would watch her doing it and thinking that could have been me.
Stacy Mayer: Yeah.
Karen Laos: I hesitated. I hesitated. It reminds me of Mel Robbins. Five second rule that you've really got 5 seconds before you go the other way, or you don't do the thing that you immediately feel in your gut to do.
Stacy Mayer: Yeah, I think these rules, combined with our own interpersonal brilliance is literally the key to the influence that we want to have at the top or success or whatever that is. Because there are these things that we can do to help us be more successful. Like, never pay full price. It is something it is a literally a rule for making more money. Or for having more money. Is that don't pay full price. Of course you're going to have more money if you don't pay full price. It's just works. Do the math. And so there are certain things that you can do. And actually that's a great segway into anything that you can offer us from your book or stuff that work that you do with clients in terms of certain things that you can do to set yourself up to be successful for any sort of presentation.
Karen Laos: Sure. Well, first, I want to share a missed opportunity of one of my clients that was a very powerful example. Her boss hired me. Large, large company that everyone would know. But I'm going to keep that confidential. I was hired for this woman who was a senior director engineer, been at the company for 20 plus years. Her boss was female. Whether that's relevant or not, but really supportive boss. She said, I want to help her move into a different department. Well, we worked on her speaking skills and she definitely got better there. But about three weeks into coaching her, I got a call from her boss and she said, Here's the problem, but you probably don't know this. Number one, she went and talked to this person who could have promoted her. And so that's when she said, number one, there's two things. One, she doesn't turn her camera on during meetings. So the other boss said, well, I have no way to really assess even how she comes across. And secondly, she doesn't contribute at meetings. So I can't see her. I can't hear her. How could I possibly even consider hiring her? And what was interesting is when I talked to my client confidentially, she said: Do you mean to tell me, because here's the thing. People speak up and they get into this banter and everybody is just vying for position. I don't want to be that person. Do you mean to tell me that I need to just make something up? I said, Well, probably. Or you speak first. You always speak first. There's so many opportunities when we're on a call or in an in-person meeting where someone says, okay, what thoughts do people have? Let's throw it out to the room. Be the person to speak first. Then you won't have to regurgitate what somebody else said or you won't have to tag on to someone else. But I still recommended to her, number one, you got to put your camera on and you definitely need to say something so people can hear your voice, even if it is to reiterate another point. Yeah, something that really, really struck me as a recent example and I thought, wow, I didn't know that that was happening until her boss talked to me about it.
Stacy Mayer: That is so good. And there are these simple things that we either are doing or not doing that are causing us to to be glossed over, that we're like: wait, what? That was the thing, you know? I mean, it really reminds me of what I talk a lot about, whereas you're not going to get promoted if you don't have a successor and people are like: Are you fucking kidding me? And they're like: Well, yeah, they're not going to promote you because they have nobody else to do your job. It's like: Well, I would love to give her a promotion, but we actually really don't even know what she looks like or what she cares about. It can be as simple as that. Turning on your camera, being engaged, speaking first. And I always offer it to my clients to ask a question. If you if you don't want to just add to the noise, you could just ask a good question and that engages you in that conversation. I love that. And such a good example of how you can practice your quote unquote, public speaking even without public speaking.
Karen Laos: Yes. And it's such a wonderful moment. Because there usually is a few seconds of pause when someone throws out a question, particularly on Zoom, that there is ample opportunity. We just have to take it. And I'm a firm believer in being specific. So thinking about two things. One, let's talk about voice for a minute. So going back to thinking about tips. One of the things that I notice that happens a lot is this concept of upspeak, that slang term for when we end a statement with a question or a comma. And it usually happens in our introductions. And this is if people change this...
Stacy Mayer: I know exactly what you mean? I just had to do it in real time.
Karen Laos: Well, that's perfect, because I want to give my example of option one and option two. Because usually it happens in introductions where we don't even say our name with conviction. Option one would be.
I'm laughing so hard. My name is Stacy Mayer? Sorry. On a side note, when I was acting, I would actually have to practice my introduction all the time because this is such a big deal. Yeah, I love this so much.
Karen Laos: Well, that's brilliant. So. Yeah, so usually it would be something like: Hi, I'm Karen Laos and I'm originally from Minneapolis, but now I live in San Francisco. Versus: Hi, I'm Karen Laos. I'm originally from Minneapolis, but now I live in San Francisco. It's so simple.
Stacy Mayer: Oh, that's so good.
Karen Laos: All we have to do is speak with punctuation, just like you'd write an email. We want to be speaking like that so that we have a landing point, which is that beautiful period, the pause. And when we have that declarative tone, we come across as so much more credible and a leader.
Stacy Mayer: People can follow you too. I can't follow you and it's all run together. But when there's periods, I can actually take in and digest the information, which is really what we want them to do. I love that. That's so good.
So speaking of trusting your voice in terms of how do we get to the point where we trust ourselves. We're like: I trust my voice. Done work, done check. Official. I have graduated from the Karen Laos School of trusting my voice.
Karen Laos: Well, I wish I could tell you that. No, I'm just kidding. I wrote an entire book about it. But I do think that we tend to underestimate the amount of time and awareness and tension and growth that's needed. Because it took me a while. Now we all have the things that we have in our past that we need to unpack and discover and then move forward from. But I would say the biggest thing is simply to be aware first, where are you not trusting your voice? And the opening story of my book is where I was in a boardroom and I had been asked and it was with my peers. We were the leaders of the company, and my boss had suggested that I present on something that I personally didn't necessarily agree with. It wasn't an ethical thing, it was just more of that doesn't really make sense. Because, what I learned as a kid, is you follow what your boss says and you just do it without questioning it.
Stacy Mayer: Which one told you that, your mom or your dad?
Karen Laos: That's a really powerful question, because nobody told me it was the modeling.
Stacy Mayer: Oh, good, good. I love that. My interruptive question was actually good.
Karen Laos: It was it was. Well, the boss sent my boss had to shut down the meeting because I couldn't get the words out. I really couldn't. I was tongue tied. Everybody was around me trying to support me. They all really liked me and we had great relationships, but I was so tongue tied because I had this. I didn't know it then, but I had this internal conflict of I don't I don't think this makes sense, but I need to do it because of my boss. And she shuts down the meeting, she pulls me aside and she goes, this was a perfect example where you didn't trust your gut. What if you had just said, I don't know why we even agreed to do this in the first place. Let's table this. That would have never occurred to me because again, I learned you have to ask permission if it's your boss. And I that was such a huge aha for me. So that was the moment where I realized no more.
Stacy Mayer: Oh, that's so good.
Karen Laos: I feel like either you gradually progress to where you want to be, or you have a moment like that where you go, this was awful and I never want this to happen again and why am I doing this? So that's when I really went to town with my personal growth, with therapy, with leadership in all these things to help me.
Stacy Mayer: Get to the bottom of it. Get to the bottom of it. It's so good. You solved the problems. I love it.
Karen Laos: I know. So, yeah, I think it's very personal, I think. But I do think that outside feedback is super important.
Stacy Mayer: Yeah, totally. Absolutely. I mean, it's the only way we can really, really tell because we're always going to judge ourselves from either too harshly or not harshly enough. It's just we need that reflection. Yeah, because everybody else is looking at us or thinking something. So we might as well hear it. So why do you personally feel motivated to have that voice at the table? Why does it matter?
Oh, gosh. Well, because personally, I'm on a mission. To me, I'm on a mission to reach 10 million women, you mentioned this earlier, to overcome self-doubt and speak with confidence. So I feel like this is so much bigger than myself. And that's why I ended up quitting my job, because I thought: my calling is so much bigger than that one company. And so for me, being of service. But how can you be of service if you don't truly feel free to speak up to not be? To me, the turning point was I am now no longer dependent upon what someone else thinks of me or feels about me again. Most of that is stories I'm making up in my head anyway, but I'm not dependent on that anymore to be able to speak up. So for me, I know that I have value now as not just what I'm bringing to the table from my expertise, but just because I exist.
Stacy Mayer: Yeah, exactly.
Karen Laos: That latter part was where the work had to get to me. Because, the confidence my dad gave me based on the rule, you ask, you get, you ask, you get. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, he always used to say that. Then you start internalizing some of these things like, Oh, maybe they don't think this of me or Oh, maybe this person. And then that doubt chips away at our confidence. So to me, it really was about my own value as a person. that I had overcome so.
Stacy Mayer: So you have a megaphone and you run around and you're like, Hey, guys. Punctuation, punctuation, punctuation, pause. Speak up. Trust your voice. Anything else that you want to give us today? I love it. All these isms, Laos-isms.
Karen Laos: You're so sweet. Well, I do like the idea of knowing how to stop rambling and get to the point.
Stacy Mayer: Oh, yes.
Karen Laos: Most of us do ramble, and I'm a recovering rambler myself. So what I would add here is to I love the phrase: be brief, be bright, be done. And if you think about okay, when, when you notice yourself rambling, this is what I trained myself to do. Out loud. First of all, I pause. And the pause is just a nanosecond. And then I say: and my point is this. But before you pause, you have to realize you're rambling. Or you realize, Oh my gosh, I'm getting so off tangent here or I'm getting so off target. So I'd say, either that's one thing I recommend, because then not only are you back on track, but your audience, if they were at all confused or even if they weren't confused, but you say, my point is this. Now, that's a flagging statement that helps us realize: oh, here's her point. So there's no question what your point was. And then the second way to deal with it is simply to pause, gather your thoughts, and then state your point by moving forward. You don't even have to say it out loud, but I personally just somehow find it helpful to say it out loud.
Stacy Mayer: Totally, yeah. Because really it starts with that noticing. I could be doing something different. The energy feels off or I don't feel connected. But stopping. And then whether you say it out loud or you just gather yourself and figure it out and then move on, it's like so, so important to just stop and move on.
Well, obviously, our conversation today could go on for many, many hours. Karen and I are both like giggle monsters. I love it so, so much. Can you tell us how to find you, how to find your book, how to learn more about the work you're doing?
Karen Laos: Yes, absolutely. My website is www.KarenLaos.com. I have a podcast called Ignite Your Confidence with Karen Laos as well as a free, private Facebook group under the same name, Ignite Your Confidence. So those are some ways to find me, but all my information is on my website. I also hang out on Instagram a lot @KarenLaosConsulting.
Stacy Mayer: So and the café in Berkeley, California. You might find us there. Chitter chattering away. Talking about changing the world, bringing more corporate badasses to the C-suite. I love it. So speaking of that, before we go, do you have any last advice for a woman who's trying to advance in her career, trying to find her voice, really wanting to own her corporate badass-ness and step into a higher level. Any final words of wisdom for them?
Karen Laos: Yes. I'm going to give you three D's. And this is how I change the trajectory of mine.
First, you've got to decide what you want, get clear on what you want. And that's what happened with me in September 2019. I said, I need to stop putting my dream of being a speaker on a shelf and I need to do it.
And then you declare it. That's the second D: you tell everybody you know. And in the case of in a corporate situation, to me declaring would be make your intentions known to the person or people that can help you get there, whether that's mentors and your boss, this is what I want and what is it going to take?
And then the third is to do it, just deliver on it. And what I mean by that is take action. You got to take action and move toward that thing that you're focused on. But the focus is super key.
Stacy Mayer: So good. And all three of those D's, you have given us beautiful examples today and really just shown us through your own leadership how to put this into action. So I can't thank you enough. Thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it.
Karen Laos: You're welcome. It was fun, as always, to be with you too.
About Your Host
Hi! I'm Stacy Mayer, a Certified Executive Coach and Promotion Strategist on a mission to bring more diversity to the leadership table by getting 1000 underrepresented corporate managers promoted into senior executive positions each year worldwide.
I help undervalued executives scale to the C-Suite using repositioning strategies that build your confidence and visibility, so you can earn the recognition and support you need from key stakeholders while embodying your unique leadership style.
My podcast “Women Changing Leadership with Stacy Mayer” tackles topics like executive communication, getting more respect in the workplace from challenging bosses and team members, and avoiding the common mistakes that sabotage career advancement.