Transcript #162. What happens after we quit our jobs: An interview with Sara McElroy, Wall-Street Journal’s poster girl for the Great Resignation

Click here to see the episode show notes. 

Sara: I made it to the CMO level by being someone who was always logical, rational, data-driven. You know, always like the corporate mindset. And what I have done with this is I've allowed it to unfold more organically because it just felt like that was the right thing to do.

There was a greater purpose here than just immediately trying to turn it into a. 


Renata: Okay, Sarah. We're live, and we're live on YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn. And a lot of people can come in and out, and they can talk to us as we go. But you know, I need to start by telling them what we're here to do today. So bear with me for a little bit. If you are listening now or later and you are interested in working for yourself or if you are.

You want to work; it's the sort of work that allows you to work from home. If you want to know how other professionals are having conversations with their employers about working from home and about taking a break from work about their mental health. How they've made 180-degree changes to their professional lives and careers during the pandemic.

Then you are in the right spot. I'm going to be talking to a guest that has been telling her own story, as well as the stories of many other people that have joined the great Resignation movement. I'm going to introduce Sarah McRoy in a minute, but maybe you're new. This, so, hi, I'm Ranata Bernardi. This is a live recording for my podcast, the Job Hunting podcast.

You can find the Job Hunting podcast in all good podcast apps, iTunes, Spotify; you name it. And if you're currently in transition, if you're looking for a job, or if your ambitions for your career and you think it's a good idea to keep a finger on the pulse on what's happening in the job market, then please follow.

You can follow me on LinkedIn, follow Sarah as well. You can follow me on Facebook, on YouTube and subscribe to the podcast. Like I said before. Consider also going to my website. It's ranata R e n a t a b e r n a r d Subscribe to my weekly newsletter. There is a free, downloadable resource for job hunters there that I think might really interest you.

And if you're ready to invest in your career, there's a range of services there on my website. Some of them are self-based, like the researcher career. You can do it on your own time. And I have a new service called Find My Talents. And these things are actually great gifts as well, getting close to Christmas.

So, I needed to say that. Now, who is Sarah McAlary? She's a two-time member of the Great Resignation class of 2021 and 2022. I love that about your bio. Sarah, A former CMO. She now finds herself in the company of millions of other professionals who are also You found themselves in unfulfilling jobs during the great resignation.

So she returned to journalists. She's been writing these great stories and having great conversations in a project that she has named Raise To Rise. We're going to find out about the project today, so welcome Sarah to the Job Hunting podcast. 

Sara: Thank you, Ren. So great to be here. I just love the global nature of our conversation, that it's Thursday here.

I'm like talking into the future, talking to you. 

Renata: Isn't it weird? Yes. I love your part of the world. I want to know a little bit more about you and how you ended up, you're in Florida now? Yes, 

Sara: I am. Yes. I'm on the east coast of Florida in a little beach town. It's lovely. 

Renata: Oh, wonderful. That's such a beautiful part of the world.

So tell me about, you know, for those of you who don't know much about you, we'll be listening from you for the first time. Tell us your career story and what led you to make such a big change during the pandemic. 

Sara: Sure. Absolutely. Well, if I look at the most common thread woven across my career, it is that I was always that good corporate girl.

I really abided by the Good Girl playbook. It was like, whatever you ask me to do, I'll do it. I'll keep my head down. I'll work harder than anyone around me, and I'll. The boat won't use my voice like I'll just get it done. And in some ways, that worked really well for me because I was able to make it to the CMO level by the age of 35, something I was so proud of.

But what happened is that I became Super burned out in that role and decided I had to hit the life reset button in April 2021. I ended up getting a diagnosis of shingles, and this was after juggling both the CMO role and an executive MBA program. In between the two of them, I was working up to, not every single day, but working up to 20 hours a day and even had a couple of episodes of throwing up blood that led to the.

Preceded the shingles diagnosis, and it was just like, My legs were moving, and I couldn't stop. I felt like I had to keep all of the plates spinning, but that shingles diagnosis was really that wake-up call moment for me. That was like, okay, Sarah, I know you've worked so hard to build this perfect on paper, perfect on resume life, and you know, it's just not worth it anymore.

It's.this isn't working. So I hit the life reset button. I found a new job down in Florida. I moved here to the coast, like I mentioned, and I was in the bustling metropolis of Atlanta, Georgia, before this. So really made a huge pivot from fast-paced city living to slow pace of beach town.

And I also cut back on my hours at my new job, really working a better schedule. I had better boundaries. I'm doing all this yoga and meditation, and for some reason, like my burnout isn't completely healing. It got better during that time. And actually, that's when the Wall Street Journal picked up my story, and I did an interview and a podcast for them.

And it was, you hear the podcast episode, and it, it kind of ends with like Sarah found her idyllic little slice of paradise. And a greater sense of peace living on the water. And that was true. But what I didn't realize, Ranata is that chronic stress and burnout are not just because of overworking and the hours that we're logging.

It really is about toxic cultures as well. And so I had this mely healing burnout wound, and I'm going into a new toxic culture down here. I was actually dealing with a sexual harassment situation that wasn't properly addressed or investigated for. And it was just like, What broke open? That good girl version of Sarah that broke open in April 2021 with shingles was shattered in January of this year when they finally did do an investigation, but it was clearly just a performative check-the-box exercise and.

I just knew after hanging up the phone with hr she put an hour on my call to give me the readout from the investigation that had been done but read back to me a list of 10 bullet points in a span of all of four minutes. There was no new information in there, no accountability for the person who was causing the problems.

And I hung up the phone, and I was just like, I'm not going back. Like, unless it's to drop off my laptop, I'm just not going to do it. So I actually. Wrote later that night, this blistering anti-harassment, you know, power of Women's Voices resignation letter. And I took my laptop into the office the next morning, and I hit send on it.

And I sent it not only to my boss in hr but the CEO. And I walked out the door. I didn't even give two weeks notice. So like, good girl, Sarah of 2020. If you had told her that this is what the road would've been for, oh my God, two years, and that she would've done that, that she would've left on not so great of terms, wouldn't have given notice like she would be horrified.

But that is the. The theme of what is happening here, we're seeing so many people hitting a breaking point, really starting to ask those important questions about what's important to them, and that's why millions of other people are making moves like this too. 

Renata: Wow, Sarah. that's going to resonate with so many people out there.

You know, I have lots of people that write to me about the podcast, and they tell me their stories, and what I'm going to do now is I'm going to send some of them your way because I know you've been capturing these stories, but you know, men and women, you know, I know you've, you have a focus on women's stories, but I know a.

Clients as well. Men and women have been really struggling, and some friends of mine as well. And at all levels, you know, senior levels and the grassroot levels. If you're in the workforce during the pandemic, you have had a breakthrough, you know? Yes. Even if you're still working, you know, there has so much that has shedded away from.

So many husks and layers that have shed it away. We are at our core, you know, and I think in many ways that is a good thing; in some ways, I feel, you know, that I've left behind a couple of things that I'm, worried about regaining them, so I'll talk to you about that in a moment, but, okay. Now you've decided to do a second pivot.

 how are you feeling now? Because I'll ask you this a pivot into having your. Project your own business can also be stressful. It may sound romantic at the beginning, and then you realize it's hard work and you are such a high achiever. I know how much work you're putting into this.

Renata: Tell 

Sara: me, how's it going? It's a great question. No, I love that question so much because you're right. We romanticize the entrepreneurial journey, right? You know, it's one of those things that I knew it was going to be hard, but I'll tell you, actually, I was having this conversation earlier today.

The biggest thing that I didn't expect going into this wasn't. The work itself, it was actually what it required of me as an individual on a very raw human level. We're talking like Sarah at her most vulnerable, having to face demons and figure out, you know, new ways of working and how do I even balance being burnt out, and then also building something of my own.

And it has been; I love that you asked that question, and I want to be really honest that it hasn't been all puppies and rainbows, all the. But nothing is in life. Right. And I wouldn't treat it for a second because this work, speaking with women about their stories and, to your point, men as well, it's been amazing how many men who've seen I'm doing this work and have reached out to this work is more rewarding.

Impactful purposes than anything I have done in my entire career. And I would not change it for a second. And the levels of personal growth that I think is coming out of this, because I'm having, to your point, having to shed those layers, I'm having to become the most authentic version of, of Sarah to even show up like this on a live and tell my story like that wouldn't, I don't think that would've happened in corporate, or at least not this quickly.

And so it's been a really. Beautiful, magical, terrifying, hard journey. All in the mix, right? Like all the nuance, all the grayscale. 

Renata: And you know, I love what you're doing. I've read some of your stories. I read your own story, and I can see that you are building this momentum to potentially monetize what you're doing because is, is it revenue generating at the moment?

Nope. Or is still building the reputation? 

Sara: Yes. Really for me, what this was is that so when I quit that job, I did not have a true plan in place, which I do not recommend. Like, don't get to that boiling point, you know, that boiling point that you would just have to pull the rip cord immediately.

That's certainly a lesson that I have learned from all of this. I wouldn't change it because it has fueled all. But yet it's really hard on our nervous systems, our, our, you know, mental health, everything. But I originally thought that I was going to do something in that space of burnout because of that Wall Street Journal article.

And my story was really at the forefront of like pandemic burnout and what we were doing in our careers and how we were recovering, and the stories and the personal messages that I got after that came out from strangers around the world. It was. You know, solve for a broken spirit. It was like there is something here, especially in the fact that we are having conversations about burnout with our friends at happy hours and dinner catch-ups and play dates and those kinds of things, but like we're still scared on a larger scale to.

Speak about it really openly with our personal experiences. And so people were seeing like a private message to me as a safe haven to discuss their challenges. And so it was like, there's something here, and we need to keep this conversation going. With the return to work and us kind of all being put back in the the box, it's like we can't lose this momentum.

So that's what I thought I was going to do, Renata, but then with what happened and the way that my last job ended and I was so just impassioned about. My experience and what it also likely meant for other women getting mired in these spin cycles of burnout and, you know, toxic work culture, just craziness.

It was like, I can't be the only woman out there experiencing this. Yeah. So that's actually what inspired me to do Race to Rise, and I wanted it to be really, Pure to start of just capturing voices and being able to share out the stories. And yes, of course, I have to have to make a living, and it's becoming a book, which I'm super proud of.

And I think there's real opportunity to also create amazing spaces for women to have support in figuring out how to, what I call consciously quit, which is to empower yourself to walk away when you need to but do it in a way. You know, graceful and intentional and purpose, and it just feels like this has been the right evolution.

And the last thing I'll say on that too is that. 

Renata: Yeah. Sarah, I love what you're doing, and I want this to be a lesson for any anyone that's listening here because if you are in transition, it's such an important thing to build that reputation. Don't jump into job-hunting mode straight away.

Don't jump into, you know, figuring out a business strategy straightaway. If you're, you are going into business, building your reputation for your thought leadership and what you want. Pursue as a commercial pathway is so important, right? So when I, I talk to clients, I do LinkedIn audits. I, I have a group coaching program running at the moment.

We're halfway through, and I insist that they need to keep posting. They need to find their niche and find their message and use LinkedIn and lose whatever. Talent they have if they like writing or if they like talking, whatever it is that they like to do. Send that message crisp and clear about your thought leadership, and you are building your thought leadership from the ground up.

From a personal experience, that's fantastic for other professionals. It could be that they love cybersecurity or that they love project management. Whatever it is that you are passionate about, start developing this. Habit. This discipline of nurturing and serving a community that's also interesting, interested.

I mean, look at, you know, the amount of people that you were able to build as a community around you, right? Of people that can relate to your story. We can see somebody here saying that they were also diagnosed with shingles in 2021. If you've had shingles anytime in your life, take that as a red flag.


Sara: a terrible thing. Yes, definitely. Yeah. Oh, my goodness. No, I just, Renata, I love that so much and thank you for bringing that to bear because we are often taught in the sort of churn and burn crazy, frenetic pace of our economy to figure out your. Plan and start monetizing immediately. And like that didn't feel authentic to me.

It didn't feel right because it's like we're; this is more about a conversation and helping people to change their lives. And if I can start there, I know there will be good that will come out of this, and I'll be able to, you know to, turn it into something that can pay my bills at the forefront. I agree.

It is, it's about building trust and respect in your reputation before just showing up and saying, Hey, pay me money. I've got things that you want. Like, that's not the way the world works. And it's not the way to show up with heart and purpose in business. 

Renata: Absolutely. Yes. And you know, if you were between jobs, Sarah, there is this.

Fear of being unemployed that people have Yes. That just brings that the negative spiraling down of their own mindset, you know, causing what came first, the chicken or the egg. Right. And I feel it's really the mindset. It's really the mindset that allows them to reach that place where they find it harder and harder to get jobs.

Whereas if you treat your transition period as a sabbatical, as a proper break, absolutely rest. Go to Peru like you did, or even you get afford to go to Peru, just go for walks. You know, just do anything except think about work and then go back into. A project or not necessarily a transactional approach, where you are already trying to monetize everything, find a job very quickly, that usually doesn't work really well, doesn't gel well with your network as well if you're trying to bring your network in to support you.

Sara: Totally. Well, and I don't know about Australia's history in this space, but for us in the United States, it really goes back to the industrial revolution and how things changed at that point in time when our value became associated with an hourly rate at work and our. The homeostatic orientation of our society really shifted in such a way that you, in the workforce, you are valuable when you are producing on an hourly rate.

And that's the only time you're valuable. And I think it is such garbage, honestly. And I love that a lot of people are starting to challenge that. And this doesn't mean anything about, you know, not being a hard worker or doing your, your full amount of work or anything along those lines. But we are just so much more than an hourly rate.

And if we have a job tied. Like, we can expand so much when we don't have work at the forefront of our lives. Like, it can actually be a really powerful opportunity. And again, I, I don't want to discount the fact that if we have to pay our bills like that is so important. So not saying anything about that.

But if you have the space and you know you're okay financially, and you can, you can disconnect a bit from hustle culture and turn and burn. That is powerful time that you can use to, to just grow and figure out exactly what you want next. Like that space is so beautiful and so hard to find when you're working five days a week and hardly having any time off in the year.

Renata: Yeah, I have a friend; I'm not going to mention her name because I'm not sure if she wants me to talk about this yet, but we have discussed this in terms of making it into a podcast. We sometimes think, okay, what would happen to us if life imploded and we had to start from scratch? What would you do?

So I love that. Yes. And she's super, you know, successful at what she does. You know, like you and like me, we're always sort of grinding and hustling. Yeah. And we would, what would we do if we had to start over? If we could start over, Absolutely. From zero And usually, you know, you come, you come with the best ideas when, when you think like that.

And I think, in a way, it's almost what you've done. So I'm really fascinated about, about your story. One thing that I wanted to ask you as well is, There's no question that you are a high achiever, and even when you're sort of relaxing and going into a different mode, it seems that you can't not be like super high performing in what you do.

Am I right? What, what do you think are your key strengths? Sometimes when strengths overflow, they. Weaknesses. You know what I mean? Like you have too much of something, and then it overflows, and it starts impacting your well-being. What do you think your key strengths? 

Sara: Yes. Well, I mean, I can think of a perfect example right now in that I've been working on some new content, and I have found myself spinning my wheels because of that perfectionism piece.

And, you know, it's like always that sort of that sort of joke that, you know, like that's a really cliche thing to say in interviews where they ask you what your weakness is and you're like, oh, I'm just such a perfectionist. I spend too much time on things. It is for me, and I think it's both. It's a double-edged sword, right?

Like I am super committed to, if I'm going to put anything out there, I want it to be really high quality because when it's high quality, it can help the most people. And I also think, too, as to your point of respect and re reputation, I want to respect that people are taking valuable time and attention. Like time and attention are most limited, precious resources.

And if you're gonna give me any of that, I want to make sure—the best and things that are going to help you. But gosh, does it spin me sometimes? You know, I just can get in my own way. 

Renata: Yes, yes. But you are such a great writer, and I think you are absolutely right. I used to run a lots of events as part of my work.

I used to work for a think tank and professional associations. So I used to run events for hundreds of people, and I used to tell the team; this event is competing, not just with other companies that do events. This event is competing with time, with family, with time. Yeah. With, you know, a quiet lunch with some friends, you know, if you want them to come, we need to put people on the panel that really, really.

Makes a difference, and you need to make the events super and a great experience for everybody. So I, I get it. You know, and, and I think, you know when you start your bio saying you are great resignation class of 20 20, 20 21. I thought that there was so. Funny and cute, you know, I'm okay. Who is this woman?

So I get it. Yes. I, I feel like whatever you do, you will always have this sort of high-performing gene inside you. And I noticed that in some of the women that you've interviewed, there's one in particular, Alexia Felix. Yeah. There's one of the video clips you have in your blog. She says, oh, I was, I started doing this program, and I was, You know, sitting down and doing 11 hours of training a day, but you could see that she chose to do it.

Yeah. It's different when you are in a working environment where you don't like the culture, where you don't like the jobs, and you know, you have tasks and responsibilities that are not aligned with. The your talents and the things that you like to do. She chose to do this very intense program to train her to start a new career.

Yes. And that adrenaline kept her going. So I find that the burnout is not so much the hours that you put into work. It's the quality of the work that you're doing and the quality of the people around you. Is that what you have felt with people that you've interviewed? 

Sara: You know, that's a really interesting question.

I do think you're on to something with that. What I personally think with burnout, and the whole kind of like the increase the influx during the pandemic, it was like, oh. All of us had baseline stress levels pre-pandemic that were at a certain level, and we were adapted to that, right? And then all of a sudden, you throw a black swan event, and a global health crisis into the mix, and everybody's baseline level is ratcheted up much higher.

And then there are all these new challenges that a company just like. Us walking around in a collective trauma all day. So from the standpoint of our nervous systems, everybody was operating at a much higher level of that parasympathetic arousal and not able to be as much in that rest and digest state, which is really important.

So that's the one thing I will say is that I think. Even with, I totally agree with you, that sometimes like we can get that burst and be in flow and work for hours and hours and hours and it'll be like, like, you know, gone in a flash, and I think with Valencia like it was that kind of thing for her too.

She's super motivated and super passionate as she was doing all that text stuff too. She's like a social media influencer has two kids, like total rockstar. But I think too that we have to, even when we're doing the things that we're passionate about, watch out for—the amount of time we're putting in physically too.

Because our bodies are just our bodies. Right. Like even that, that's the hard thing. And that was what I found with Reese, her eyes. Yeah. I had, I was working with a coach right after I started this project, and my boyfriend was saying like, I don't even see you. You're now doing your own thing, which is not making any money.

But you're working more than you did before. Like how does this even compute? And she was, I'm telling the coach this and like, how do I stop? I'm just like thinking about it all the time, and I can't stop. And it becomes that sort of thing of like, how do we still remember, even when we are high achieving, we love what we're doing.

How do we still find that ability too? Unplug from that thing, knowing that if we completely squeeze every ounce of productivity out of us, no matter how much we love it, there still will not be more to refill and to be able to use moving forward. 

Renata: You're absolutely right, and as you were saying it, as I asked the question, I immediately regretted it because there's an interesting article.

I believe it's also Wall Street Journal. I will link it in the episode show notes when this podcast is out about this wonderful woman. I think she's also a journalist, and she burnt out from a job she loved. Yeah. And she wrote an article a couple of weeks ago, maybe three weeks ago, and it was just brilliant, and it's very possible for that to happen as well.

And it happened to me a couple of times. So yeah, I was just thinking you're absolutely right. But you do get into a flow when you start a. Career when you start a career that you've chosen, and you've decided to invest in. And I think that that's the flow that you are in now. And some of the people that you've interviewed are feeling that flow as well.

So it's exciting to see that, and I love that it can happen at any age as well. It's not something that's just for younger women or men. I know you interview more women, but I find that that's really motivational. What has been the impact on you about the stories that you have found and that you're sharing?

Are they helping you build, you know, an awareness of what's going on? And maybe think about ways that you can service this group of women that you're talking. 

Sara: Yes. I mean, absolutely. It's been so incredible that people would like it is the greatest honor to have people share their personal stories and like very vulnerable personal stories with you.

And that's where I was starting out with all of this is like we were hearing all the statistics all the time about the great resignation and the millions of people walking away, and it's like every single one of those data points that are laddering up into those statistics. That is a person and a story to be told, and what I found from it is really like, yes, where are the pieces?

What are the pieces that are missing from the current career playbook and the things that we're taught, and especially as women around good girl conditioning, that's come through really loud and clear, too, in this work? Like what are the things that are missing from what the tools we have currently at hand that we need to be able to be more empowered and to be able to.

Architect our careers with greater intentionality moving forward. So where I've really landed with my focus is like, It's not about everybody just waking up tomorrow and walking out Jerry McGuire's style, like it's nothing like that. But it is when we know that something is not working for us. When we know a job is taking more than it's giving, we.

Give ourselves permission to walk away and find whatever is going to lead us to greater fulfillment next in a way that is really consciously aware, aligned with our values, our desired work style, our lifestyle like, and is moving us in the direction toward work that is right for us for this season of our lives and what we need.

Because I think as women too, as you talk to working women, There's like the career playbook, right? Or like conventional wisdom around careers, which is the linear path. Pick that one sort of lane generally that you're going to stay in for the next few decades and like climb the ladder, pull down fatter paychecks, chase fancier titles, and done and dusted.

Like you're going to be, that's a happy, fulfilling, stable career. But I just think there's so much. Nuance that is missed in that, and especially as women too, because like that doesn't work for, for all women. For example, if we have kids and we need to downshift or take a part-time job or take time out of the workforce, whatever it might look like, I felt like we were really missing.

The comprehensive Professional Women's Playbook that was an update to that kind of older way and took into account all of the Zeit guy shifts that occurred during the pandemic and the great resignation and the moves toward flexibility and priorities and all of those things. So that's really where I've netted out with that, and I think there is massive opportunity for us together to link arms and to.

To create a sea change in how we approach work collectively as a result of this if we start to embrace a new approach and let a lot of the old shoulds, the old conventional wisdom that's archaic and obsolete, let it go. 

Renata: I think you just found a good byline for your book, A Comprehensive Women's Playbook.

I love that. Please consider it. Thank you. Are employers already listening to you? Have they been in touch with you to get ideas to maybe see how they can? Better communicate with your employees? 

Sara: No, they have not. I and I've not had conversations with employers in the space of like traditional employers.

I think I'm a lit, you know, I don't know a hundred percent right. Everybody's, they always say like, How people perceive you is like not your business. Right. But it is; it's curious. It makes me, it makes me curious, but I think I'm seen as a little bit rogue in the, A little bit. Cause I just am, yeah. I write a little bit.

Okay. A lot. But it's one of those things where it's like, I just so believe that. The more we are all empowered to take the steps that we need to find work that aligns with us and is, you know, lights us up. Like that ripple effect of how we show up in the world every day when we're, you know, it still works, right?

But, like, as if we're as happy as we can possibly be with it. Like the impact that we not only have at the office but at home with our families, with our kids, with our friends. Even the stranger at the grocery store. That is huge. So I've, I think I'm still a little bit of an outsider in that regard with the traditional corporation, but I will tell you, I've had a couple of amazing conversations with female founders who are working with mostly 10 99 contractors as their employee base, and they're working moms.

And they're, they've worked it out so that women can establish what their schedules are during the week, and they can even work, you know, like some of the women will be like, I can do Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM or, but I'm not available any other days. Cause those the days, I can get childcare.

And then some women will actually, like, kind of take more of an overnight shift, like the, probably the seven to 10 range. And they both said, so I have two, only two data points. But I do think it's really cool, and it speaks to the opportunity too. To think about creative ways of staffing and running businesses.

And they've said that it takes more communication and more planning, and there can be mixed up, but they're such buy-in and engagement because these women want to work. That's one of the things, too, that like drives me a little nuts. With the common refrain around the great resignation, nobody wants to work.

Like I have not found that from my research and the new women in the Workplace report that came out from McKenzie and Lean in, you know, surveying organizations. I think 333 organizations with 40,000 employees found. That, like that, that's what they're unequivocally saying women are. It's not that women don't want to work.

Women are breaking up with bad jobs and bad workplaces. So yeah, it's it's just fascinating, and I do hope, what I do hope is that, more companies. I know this is a crazy time, at least here in the States, when it, when we look at the economy and everything starts to focus and shift really on the financials, and things start to where there were investments in.

Greater employee benefits and flexible opportunities and things like that. A lot of that can get pulled back in economic downturns. But I do hope that on the other side of whatever this contraction ends up being, there is more conversation about all of this, and we really are bringing more of that bottom-up approach, asking people what they want rather than just top-down.

Trying to check boxes of thinking, we solved the problem because mm-hmm. , you know, we give people rest days once a quarter or something like that. 

Renata: Sarah, when I made a joke about you being rogue, I think you know, what you are doing is so much harder to do because it's grassroots level. So when you talked about the McKinsey's and the line in service, they are great service and, but that's usually what organizations tend to move towards, you know, the.

The rational arguments, the numbers, and the metrics, whereas you are providing an emotional depth to this, to this situation that we're finding it now that people are not used to seeing. You know, you might find in an article here and there, With a, you know, a paragraph about a person, but you are deep diving into these people's lives, and that, you know, is ground-grounded research, I think, is what they call in social sciences.

That, I think, is as you start building more and more of that, the magnitude will sort of start causing a little bit of a steer. I think it has already because you've been, I've seen your name in so many places, but I love that that people have opened up to you. So, for example, I'm a coach, I can't share my client's stories like that.

Right, right, right. It's all private and, but I know that they are there and that, and in especially in the sectors where you and I have navigated, which is the white collar. Sit behind the desk corporate, nonprofit, or public sector professionals; they don't like to share those things because, yeah, it can be a career-limiting move for most of them if they do.

Totally. Mm. So I, I love that we have become more open about this and that we are finding it okay to talk about mental health and well-being and find better places to work for. On the other hand, Sarah, where you. In the US, we have leaders like LO global leaders like Elon Musk asking everybody to come back into the office.

My goodness. 

Sara: And, like, work crazy hours. Yes. Did you hear about the form that he recently sent out that was, like, sent out to the teams, and it was like, if you're not committed to working intense hours, then you should take a severance package, and you have to fill out this form and check Yes. That you're, you're going to commit to this.

I know. Oh, it's tough because 

Renata: also, like I, I think that people will probably stay. You know, I, a friend of mine wrote a, a LinkedIn post yesterday. I mean, I could feel his emotion writing about the situation. And Elon Musk's Twitter and all the is business. And, but if you look at all of the redundancies that are now happening in the tech sector, you would, what would you?

Yeah. Right. So, right. How do you feel about that? That lack of awareness? Or is it are we pushing too hard? You know, I'm trying to be the devil's advocate here as well. Sure. To think, are we pushing it too hard, this remote work? Will it work long term to grow the business? You know, And find, for example, my area of expertise in the past has been research and innovation.

So, and I worry about r and d done from home. I don't know if that's possible. Yes. 

Sara: About that. Well, you know, I think, as with anything, right? Like we try to, we love us some binary thinking as humans, and either or, it has to be this, or it has to be that. And we don't allow for that. That beautiful. Space in between the polarities that allows for there to be so many creative solutions.

So I personally, I think that there are certain businesses that can be run completely remotely, and there, there already are, right? Like there are already organizations that are run completely remotely. To your point, though, there are definitely organizations, and especially if you think of like retail, brick and mortar businesses, hospitality, et cetera, like people have to be present.

So, Again, there's, there's the spectrum, right? But I don't think with the more traditional professional office setting; I don't think that I think it's a myopic approach to force people back into the office because people. You know, we went home during the pandemic lockdown, they saw productivity actually increase.

So all of those arguments about productivity declining when people work from home were proven to be moot points. And then now, I don't know this, this probably hasn't come across your way because it's here in the States, but. Productivity and output has declined by the highest amount that it ever has here in the States since 1947.

And now, they don't have causal effect with this, but they're speculation that it's around quiet, quitting, and things like that. People feeling burnt out and disengaged and, you know, forced back to work with the return to work and all those things. So again, no direct causal link. They're speculating, but I think it is telling that there's.

We're trying to; it's like taking blinders off, right? You take off the blinders. You can't unsee what you've seen, like the toothpaste is not going back in the tube. If I've had that taste of flexibility and I've been able to be, you know, think about it as like a working mother. If I'm not commuting home and I actually get to like sit down with my family for dinner, that's really magical, precious stuff.

And then you take. That boon and you juxtapose it against the fact that we were just in the middle of a situation where we didn't know if we were going to live or going to die. Those two things coming together tell me like it tells us how precious those moments are, and so I just think it's so shortsighted for organizations.

To think that it has to go back to the way it was, and I don't think, I think to your point, yes, absolutely. This is like if you are in a sector that's in difficult times and you need to put your head down and do what you need to do, do that apps. Absolutely like take care of your family and those things.

But you can also be planning during that time and figuring out what your next move is going to be because we have not solved all of the problems that are causing mass levels of burnout. You know, there was a Deloitte study that came out back in April of this year that found more than 50% of women intend to quit their jobs in the next two years, and that was a global study of 5,000 women.

That number skyrockets to 90% on a five. Horizon. So only 10% of women intend to be with their current employers in five years time. I mean, that is telling us the way we work is not working for the majority, the vast majority of women. And if we aren't solving the problems at hand, like burnout and stress, we're the top two reasons cited.

Then we're going to continue to see this be a problem because we, we've recognized it, we feel it. We're not going to. Be able to go back into the way it was before, you know, like a time machine. That's not possible. 

Renata: Yes. I want to go back to what you said before about the second workplace and how toxic it was.

We have a comment here from somebody who's saying women don't leave their jobs. They leave bad bosses and toxic workplaces environments. And that is very true for women and men, by the way, But I, I feel that especially for women it, it can be very toxic because pre-pandemic women, Being the majority of the professional workforce, asking for flexibility.

Yeah. You know, and, and, and having to take slow lanes in their careers during maternity leave and coming back and finding that they have lost their status quo and Right. And that has always been very problematic. Right. You. That's what the report. 

Sara: found. Yeah. I'm sorry to interrupt you. I was just going to say that's what the report actually said is that like women are specifically saying toxic cultures.

They're not saying they don't want to work, and the report found actually women leaders are walking out at the highest rate they've ever recorded since the inception of the report. So 10 and a half percent. and that means to put it at scale. For every female promoted into director-level ranks or above, there are two that are walking out, and they're like the CEO of lean in.

Rachel Thomas was saying like; this is disastrous. This is creating a pipeline issue because if we already don't have enough women in leadership, and we already know that's true from the numbers and the report, the data is there. And then you have women walking out faster than they can be promoted. We're going to lose a lot of the efforts of that we're making against diversity, equity, inclusion, all of those things.

So that's what the report is saying is like. To be clear, women are not quitting because they don't want to work or anything like that. It's like these are they, they're breaking up. It was called the great breakup. Women are breaking up with bad cultures, bad bosses, all of. 

Renata: Yeah, I think it will be interesting to see if the distance between individuals if they're working remotely, will make some of the problems disappear because you're just not in front of people, but not because people just have better bosses it 

Sara: would ing to see it.

Yeah, yeah, I've heard that. I mean, just anecdotally, right. But I've heard that from people who've said, like, it's more tolerable because we're. Around each other all day long, and I can appreciate that, right? Think about boundaries and just like energetic boundaries and stuff like that. If I can just hang up, zoom, and we're done, and I'm not, we're not in the presence, and people aren't dropping into my office all the time, and things like that, like that, can make a big difference.

Renata: Yeah. Sarah, what are other things that you have found interesting that surprised you when you started talking to women? Were there any sort of big surprises that and things that you did not expect to hear? 

Sara: Yes. Well, so to the point of rewriting the professional women's career playbook, this was really the inspiration point for that.

So Really, the singular red thread running through all of the stories of the women who walked away is that I'm asking women because I'm so curious. I'm, I guess, always been both a journalism major and I've just been fascinated by psychology all my life. I wanted to ask women about that decision point.

Like, what led you to walk out the door? I found that women were talking about just knowing that they needed to leave their jobs. Now, that doesn't mean that they didn't do some of the other sorts of mental gymnastics or rational exercises like spreadsheets and plan, you know, budget planning, ProCon list, or even talking to family and friends.

But those exercises were actually secondary to more of this gut instinct, this gut knowing, and I. Floored because I'm like, you know, the good, the part of me still entrenched in that good girl conditioning is like, well, that is so irresponsible of us that we would be making these career decisions based on instinct and like, what are we thinking when the playbook has always been security, stability, you know, logical, linear moves.

You can tell a great story about your resume. And it just, it blew me away that it was like, In this sort of breakthrough that has happened as we've shed the layers and we've questioned a lot about those more arbitrary rules related to how we live our lives and work. For example, to your point of going into the office, all of a sudden, that rule that everybody has to be in the office five days a week went out the window, and we realized like that was actually not as big of a.

A reality or nec a necessity in reality as we thought it was. We are starting to reconnect and question as we question. We're reconnecting with this deeper part of us, that is, that knows what's best for us. And so that really floored me because when you look at this idea of intuition, and not all women use that term, and some people are more comfortable with it than others, but it was.

Women from a scientific standpoint and the way that our brains are wired, we are wired to have better access to intuition. And intuition is, on a scientific level, is proven. I think it was a study in new, in New Zealand in 2016 where they researched it and found that it's really this like subconscious.

Pro processing that's happening because we have these amazing bodies that take in all this information. Our subconscious brains that are also processing information that, like our rational brain, is only just like half of our intelligence, or that's kind of what I say. I guess that's not the data point there, but, like, It's only part of our intelligence.

And when we're not accessing the rest of that part of us, we are cutting off part of our power. And so I was just floored. It was like the great resignation is almost becoming this grassroots movement of women reclaiming this gut instinct and being like, no, I'm not going to tolerate that anymore. I'm going to find something that's right for me and something that's better and aligns with my priorities and my values.

And I was just; I just found that to be so powerful. And then I'll add one little thing to that. What came through were like three ways of knowing. And the first was that sort of like Hollywood shot out of the dark, you know, light bulb moment that you know you need to quit. The second was more of a gradual build and like collecting of little data points that ultimately lead to the conclusion that you need to walk away.

And oftentimes that leads to a breaking point because, like, you know, it's like paper cuts. Can lead to, to a point of really hitting that sort of straw that broke the camel's back. And then the third is more of acceptance and surrender of like accepting I'm not going to be able to change what is making me unhappy here at work.

And so I'm going to surrender to knowing that I'm just going to have to extricate myself from the situation. And that can either be like super empowered and like peaceful. I accept. I'm going to move on. Or it can also feel like disappointing because, at that point, we can also be surrendering because we've tried and we weren't able to fix it.

But it's still that sort of like, okay, I'm going to accept that I can't change what I can't change, and my choice is going to be to move on. 

Renata: Oh, I love all three. I love all three. I want to talk about intuition because I find that fascinating, and it's a topic that I talk to my clients a lot. I want to know what you think about my way of explaining intuition to my clients.

 It's easier to have intuition about things. You are competent on things that you are good at, you know, so intuition, to me, is more powerful if they are linked to the talents that you have, the experience you have as a professional, your competency. So let me give you an example. I. I have an assessment that I represent called Talent Predicts on my website.

Renata: It's called Give My Talents. If you're interested, go and have a look. It's an amazing report, and I have a very strong intuition, a talent for relationship building. I was a relationship manager all my career, so, you know, that's kind of the thing for me. So I have an intuition about people's body language.

I'm, I'm able to go, you know, when I walk into a job interview in the past, for example, I would kind of know if I had a job or not, just by watching, you know, what they did with their hands and how they looked at me. I have that great intuition. I have an older. Gabby, he has a great precision, you know, and organizational skills.

He has great intuition to figure out. Each companies are bad companies, and which companies are not bad companies. He's a short seller. You know, like he has intuition for me is linked to that. If you put your, you know, your focus on something, you know, we were talking about thought leadership before you start building, building more and more understanding of that topic, and your intuition just grows.

So you have to listen to that. It's linked to your talents; it's linked to your experience. Don't shy away from that because. Rationality is also a concept that we have. It's one of the voices in our hands, but ideally, you want to make decisions that include paths and ethos. It include exactly arguments and emotional arguments.

Otherwise, you're disconnecting from your. From your being, it's not a holistic decision. So yeah, so we, we work a lot on building intuition to go through the job hunting process because it helps, it helps a lot, you know, if you are intuitive about the next step and you're not just naval gazing and just thinking about you, you, you, but you are watching the audience who is on the panel totally.

Who's talking to you, you, you find yourself more aware. Only do that if you're not afraid of job hunting. If you're afraid of job hunting, you're going to fight in flight mode. You, your brain just doesn't compute 

Sara: Right. Right. Totally. Oh, that is important. Cool. Yeah. Well, to me, what you're speaking of is really Daniel Conneman's research on intuition.

Absolutely. Yes. And right, like he says, there are conditions for intuition, and I'm going to, I may not get these a hundred percent right. So if you're interested, definitely check them out. Maybe you could link them in the show notes, but it is really fascinating. Yeah. Yeah. His research is like that that the conditions to use intuition have to be, it has to be a predictable scenario.

So they, he says, for example, like the stock market is not a great place to use intuition because it's really hard to predict what the heck is going to happen. But like a predictable scenario. You have experience in that scenario, like making predictions and seeing if they're right or wrong. And then the third is that you're able to get feedback quickly on whether or not that intuitive hit will.

Was correct or not, but here is the trick or the kicker at least, and this is a Sarah theory based on my research, so I'm not Daniel Conneman. But where I think there is limitation in that is that I, I would agree very much if we're looking outside of ourselves right in, in spheres of or like our zones of genius or things that we're trying to be good at.

But I think that there is a piece missing because it's not. That model doesn't. Always fit. I talk about these amazing women if they hadn't walked away. So like, for example, if Sarah Blakely, who's the founder of Spanx, hadn't walked away from her job as a salesperson selling fax machines door to door, we would not have the billion-dollar company that is spanked.

And she spent, I believe it was years, actually trying to convince buyers that there was a women's shapewear market. And it is a multi-billion dollar market right now. So if you think about, Conneman's logic would fall down there, right? Like that is not a rational thing or even an intuitive thing per his model for Sarah Blakely to do.

But she followed a nudge and a knowing that just said, Sarah, like you have to do this. And she just did it. And there are so many stories out there like that, and that's where I just think like, As much as I love the science around all of this too, where I've also ended up with the book is it's going to be a combination of science and like academia and like the the those things that can be observed, measured, measured.

And like we can find facts, figures, data, evidence, et cetera, but then also soul because there's a part of life that is, there's a little bit of mystery, and you do, you see these big leaps that some of these women take and these big risks, and we wouldn't, you know, we wouldn't have. The impact of their world-changing efforts.

Another woman is Sin Madani, who left a stable job at First Data to take on the white male-dominated industry of FinTech to create stacks payments, which she led to unicorn valuation status. As a woman of color, like that is amazing. And so I want, when we think about being, you know, smart and making good decisions, not to discount that part of it that is a little bit mysterious.

There's, I like that, that sometimes just know. 

Renata: I like that. And I think that we need to nurture that. That's, that's basically innovation. You know, the innovation has that mystery to it. Yeah. You can hypothesize it, and you can, you know, sort of problem-solve it. And it comes from, Just allowing yourself to think for yourself.

And one of the things that worries me about the corporate sector is that, especially when you're beginning, if you're a graduate, I don't know what sort of graduate program you got into, but you're not allowed to think for yourself much. . It's really about grinding. You're 

Sara: training people. Exactly, 

Renata: yeah. To just follow the rules and do all the boring work that the other people don't want to do.

And they're usually not very into innovative. It doesn't allow for creativity. So we kind of, especially in our generation, yours and mine, I don't know if the younger generation will have, you know, a better solution to this. But we have not. Thought for ourselves in a long time, and I think that that, you know, great resignation is probably opening up an opportunity for people to start reviewing and reflecting on their careers and choosing things for, for the next decades to come and, and, and two decades to come.

I don't know. It doesn't; it has nothing to do with age. I have found that I have clients in their sixties that are studying completely new careers and. New ways of thinking about their profession. So this has been so inspiring, and I want to talk more. I think I'll have to have you again on the podcast when that book's done.

Please get in touch with me when you have something new to share because I think people I can see from the chat and lots of women have really related to your story, and I'd love to have you back. Sarah, please keep in touch. 

Sara: Thank you. Will do. Thank you. This has been beautiful, and I really appreciate that you wanted to turn this into an event that people could interact with, and thank you all for anybody who's watching who's been commenting.

It's, this is really powerful, important stuff, and we're making, I can feel it like seismic shifts as we talk about these things and keep these conversations going. Well, you 

Renata: I have a friend here down under; if you need any help reaching out to Australia, please keep in touch. Let's be in touch from now on because I really love your work, and you can be a guest on this podcast anytime.

Sara: Thank you. I appreciate it, Renata. It's been wonderful. 

Renata: Have a lovely weekend, and thanks, everyone, and I hope to see you again soon. Bye bye. Thank you. 


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