In life, but especially at work, women face a frustrating paradox that rewards likeability but disfavors intrepid, goal-oriented behavior. Award-winning journalist Alicia Menendez tells Claire how her own experiences led her to write the book The Likeability Trap. Alicia tells Claire how she navigates likeability issues as a journalist and anchor and how the issue is made more complicated when you factor in race, motherhood and sexual identity.
Resources from the show
- Check out Alicia’s book The Likeability Trap: How to Break Free and Succeed as You Are
- Tune in to American Voices With Alicia Menendez on MSNBC
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Claire Bidwell-Smith, Alicia Mendez
Alicia Mendez 00:00
We expect, we meaning society and but this is also cross cultural expect women to be communal to want what is in everyone’s best interests. We expect women to be warm and loving. And when they are those things, we feel very warmly toward them. The challenge for women is that those are not the things that we expect of and value in a leader.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 00:38
Hi, I’m Claire Bidwell Smith. Welcome to NEW DAY. Women in the Workplace today face a confounding dilemma. It seems that when we’re boldly climbing the ranks or confidently taking on challenges, we’re also tempting onlookers to call us aggressive or arrogant, practicing benevolent and compassionate leadership invites doubt and suspicions about our professionalism. This is the paradox award winning journalist Alicia Menendez demystifies. In her book, the likeability trap, how to break free and succeed as you are. It’s an instructive and cathartic read, but also an essential analysis of social and political systems fueling those fucked up double standards at work. Alicia, he’s an anchor for American voices on MSNBC tells us in this episode, how she fell into that likability trap, and how she’s still working to find the balance between her authentic self and the public persona that gets broadcasted. We’re lucky to hear her insights, especially since there are so many layers, racial and sexual identity, motherhood, culture and more that complicate this and make the trap more frustrating, and seemingly inescapable.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 01:54
I start every episode of the show by asking my guests how are you doing today? But how are you really doing?
Alicia Mendez 01:59
I am doing well. I have a big week. I’m filling in for the 11pm this week. And so I did all my mom’s stuff this morning where I took a trip to the dentist, I went to the grocery store. And so now I have all of those little things that create anxiety for me, checked off my to do list. So I’m nice a good spot.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 02:16
So you’re ready for your big week. That’s good. I am really obsessed with your book. And I feel like it’s been helping me think about myself in really important ways. I love the beginning, I guess actually, could you tell us, you know, you talk about how the book was kind of inspired by this talk you gave at a business conference for women and maybe start there, the likeability trap.
Alicia Mendez 02:40
I am someone who cares a lot about being well liked. That is not something that I’m necessarily proud of. It’s something that has taken me a long time to come to terms with and I imagined that I was alone in grappling with what that was costing me in my personal life and my professional life. And to your point, I was slated to give a speech to a bunch of business women and I made that the theme of the speech and it for me, it was sort of testing the waters on whether or not it was gonna resonate with other people.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 03:14
That was really brave, though, right? So like, I mean, that’s not the normal speech, one would give necessarily at a business conference of 600 women, you kind of went out on a limb there.
Alicia Mendez 03:25
Maybe it was brave, I’m not sure I had any better ideas, Claire. And so I went with it. And the room really responded. I mean, you know, you’ve done these speeches, people do Q&A At the end. And I think there’s always an interesting moment where there aren’t really questions that are testimonials and you realize that you’ve struck a nerve and so I walked away from that experience realizing I was not alone in feeling this at all that it was an experience that transcended age and generation and race and ethnicity. And that women felt very deeply that they had been socially conditioned to think about themselves in relation to other that they had been trained to think about whether or not other people like them, which we can talk about the pros and the cons of that because they’re both and so I set off to write a book but the book I thought I was gonna write Claire was a book that was much more like Eat Pray Love for likability, where I would eat gelato and do yoga and learn to care less. And I wrote a much less fun and harder to write book about how whether you’re like me, and you care and you pay a price as a woman leader as a person in the world for caring or you’re one of these women I interviewed who doesn’t give a damn and isn’t governed by likability, those women pay a price too, for being so brazenly themselves. And so the expectation and the way that expectation plays out in the workforce became much more interesting to me than this question of just letting it go.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 04:55
Yeah, yeah. It’s not a not fun book. I mean, I think it’s just really fascinating. thing and I was really just thinking so much about myself about women I know about my mother about the workforce. And I don’t know I found it very fun.
Alicia Mendez 05:10
Please go to Amazon and leave that as a review, not an unfun book, I would love that.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 05:19
When did you first start thinking about likability, as a woman?
Alicia Mendez 05:23
I think that’s a hard question to answer. Because I believe that I was always thinking about it. I don’t know that I put a name to it. Until I really began to write this book. I had, you know, because I grew up in a household where again, my father was a public servant, he wasn’t elected official, I think there was always this sense of other people’s perceptions of you the extent to which you are liked, or favored, which is an actual poll question, determines your ability to serve others, determines your ability to do your job and determines whether or not other people see you as a leader that they want to follow. And so I think it was probably ingrained pretty early, on top of which I am Latina. You know, I’m of Cuban descent. And one of the Latinas I interviewed for my book said that we’re raised with a PhD and graciousness, you know, we’re taught to, that when we walk into a room, we don’t just represent ourselves, we represent our mom or dad or sisters or brothers, everybody on our block, you know, every Cuban that has ever been in that that weight, and that expectation carries us. What I think it took me a longer time to articulate was that yes, there was a real value in being liked. People like doing business with people, they like people favor people they like in the workplace. But there also is a price as a leader and as a person for caring so much. And that was the piece that took me a longer time to come around on.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 06:56
So what did you discover about what makes a woman likable?
Alicia Mendez 07:04
We expect we meaning society, and but this is also cross cultural, expect women to be communal to want what is in everyone’s best interests, we expect women to be warm and loving. And when they are those things, we feel very warmly toward them. The challenge for women is that those are not the things that we expect of and value in a leader, what we value in a leader is sortedness, direction, and ability to get things done. And, because we don’t expect those things of women, when a woman does show up the way we expect a leader to show up when she is assertive when she goes to the mat, not just for her team, but for herself. When she just says I mean, not that anyone would literally ever say this, but that the message when you want to, you know, try to get a promotion when you run for public office is I think I’m someone who’s worthy of leadership, I think I’m someone who’s worthy of power, just that. We’re not accustomed to seeing women do that, we’re not accustomed to thinking of that as a feminine quality. And so very often women get dinged, and seen as less likable. And I think part of what often gets lost is that’s not just a feeling. It’s a feeling that has consequences. If it’s about who then does ultimately get that job or that promotion. It’s about who is seen as having leadership potential. It’s who people choose to work with, and who people choose to socialize with, inside and outside of the office, which can have just a big impact on a person’s career.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 08:47
Yeah, yeah. And then there’s all these additional layers of ethnicity and race and motherhood and sexuality and you know, those are all folded into so there’s just so much to be thinking about.
Alicia Mendez 09:00
There’s so much to be thinking about. And I think in some ways, we’ve understood the unconscious bias of some of those elements. More than then when it comes to likability. So to your point, a black woman, who is a sort of is read as aggressive or angry. Think of all of the slights against Serena Williams and the way that she has been portrayed one of one of many, and the problem for women generally and particularly Black women in the workplace is that anger carries a major risk and a major penalty people are sort of immediately seen women are immediately seen as less competent when they express anger where men in the workplace express anger and they’re seen as passionate and committed. For Latinas like myself. There are two different stereotypes either that we’re hot blooded and vivacious thinks so if you’ve had got us character and modern family, or we’re a worker be like great, we put our head down humble. We do the job again, someone you might want in your team, not someone you think of as a leader and then for Asian American women, there is this sense that they are unfairly competent, and that they should also be submissive. And so when an Asian woman attempts to lead often is seen as a violation of the expectation people have her, and […], you know, I looked a lot at covering this idea that, you know, not everyone gets to show up in the workplace as their full, authentic self. And that mean that you are a woman of a certain age who’s covering up your grades so that you’re not experiencing ageism, and might mean that you are someone who is queer, who doesn’t want to talk about the fact that your partner is of the same sex. And so that takes energy and time. And that I think, is part of what managers and employers have to understand, which is, do you want the person thinking about how they’re going to articulate what it is they’re doing for Thanksgiving and whose family they’re going to be with? Or do you want them thinking about the regression analysis you ask them to do. And that’s the tradeoff.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 11:26
I mean, for me, it’s something I’ve been really thinking a lot about, just personally, and I mean, even in therapy, I was talking recently to my therapist, and I was just talking about this feeling of incongruence. I have, like, I don’t know who I am, these days. And I, I’ve been putting myself working in a public way for almost 20 years, maybe more, you know, as a journalist, as a writer, as an author, as a, you know, well known therapist. And I’ve just been thinking so much about how much I’ve been shaped by what people respond to how they want me to be what they like about me what they don’t like about me when I say something that gets dinged, or when I say something that gets a lot of praise. And it’s kind of led into this place where I’m like, wait, I don’t really even know who the authentic version of me is, in some ways. And that has been really weighing on me and really troubling me.
Alicia Mendez 12:18
I really appreciate that someone who I perceive as being way more well-adjusted than me, and somebody who has literally done the work, all the work is still struggling with this, because that’s real. And I feel the same way. And I think it is exacerbated by social media. Because your likes and your dings are all actually quantifiable, and you have a record of them. And it is less left to perception than it is to algorithmic, you know, vote count, which is and then one of the things we know whether you are a teen or you’re the two of us, is what gets liked, what gets rewarded gets replicated.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 12:58
You’re getting more narrow into it. And but I’m not sure that’s really who I am or what I want to be doing.
Alicia Mendez 13:06
Absolutely no, I struggle with this tremendously myself. I mean, I struggle even just with this idea of being a public person, and what it means to be a public person and how much of ourselves we’re expected to give. Because I think if there can be some delineation between the private and the public, then maybe privately, you really know who you are, when you’re with your favorite girlfriends, when you’re with your children, when you’re with your partner, like you know, it is in the public sphere that I find that to become really confusing.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 13:39
Yeah, absolutely. I was telling my therapist that I keep getting this, everyone keeps saying we want more Claire, you know, like my editors, my producers, like even like my Instagram followers, and I’m like, what does that mean? Like, I don’t even know what that means anymore.
Alicia Mendez 13:55
What is more Claire, is less, Claire. What if actually, I’m an introvert who wants to be with people in real life, and not be constantly showcasing my life or putting my life on display for other people. I’m an I always say that my deepest relationships that people I treasure most you will rarely see them on my social media, because I actually love and want to protect them. And I never want to feel as though my relationship to them, or their value is quantifiable in this exact way. Yeah. And again, it creates a very strange dissonance.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 14:34
It really does. I have to constantly kind of go back to what really matters to me like what are my goals and my intentions and my values? You know, what is it I’m trying to do in this public sphere? And just kind of reminding myself of that and working from that space because otherwise I just get really lost. So what kinds of things have you done to kind of find your way into a more authentic space in your public life? Are you Your work, I mean, it’s gonna be really hard in your profession, and your particular job,
Alicia Mendez 15:05
I had a lot less success doing that in my public life than I have in my private life. So in my private life, one of the things that, you know, the process of writing, the likeability trap really clarified for me is work. And being a public person requires an element of performance. It just is, I mean, I think that’s pretty plain. But what that means to me is, depending on how many hours you work 40, 60, 80 hours a week, okay? Well, if that’s going to have an element of performance, then you’re sleeping a bunch of hours, while all the other hours when you’re with other people. I wanted feel aligned and feel like myself and feel like I’m not being asked to perform. And so for me, there was a real reevaluation of which relationships and friendships I wanted to invest in who I wanted to surround myself with, who was allowing me to show up as my best self, which I kind of loosely defined as the person I was at 12. You know, like before, like, the person who wore free T-shirts, and ill-fitting jeans, and, you know, just like listening to Tori Amos like that is, I mean, there’s a very like emo 12 year old. That is probably the closest to who I am. And that’s like concerned about the world, but also loves to have fun, and is trying to do those things in, in equal measure. And, and I pruned my friendships, I mean, it doesn’t necessarily mean I think sometimes that sounds like a radical like goodbye to people, but it really is a shifting away, and it almost was easier to make the shift toward who am I investing in which, which seeds in my watering. And that, for me, really was deeply satisfying. And to time. I mean, it takes time to not always, you know, be texting the people who you don’t feel like you’re getting it back from or who are allowing you to show up, as a public person. I will just be honest, I’m still very much in process and still struggling with this question. Because it’s hard. And I also think, becoming a mum, for me further complicated it because I all of a sudden had these people who I treasured and wanted to protect and everything I said, and did it carried away to me are both like, you know, will I be able to pay for their groceries? And also the weight of am I being the type of person who is creating the type of world that I want them to live. Yeah. The stakes got higher.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 17:37
Yeah, absolutely. I feel similarly, how have things changed just in the last 10 years in terms of like women and likeability in the public sphere? What have you seen? I mean, there’s been so many big things that have happened just in the last decade.
Alicia Mendez 17:51
I would say the biggest thing that has changed is that it’s almost as though people now know that they’re not supposed to talk about a woman’s likability. Right. So I feel like when Hillary Clinton ran for president the first time, there were innumerable articles that talked about her likability, and by the second time she was running, you know, there were enough editors, like you can’t say that. So instead, they just read articles about her electability. And they kept finding ways to more for the same question, which I think is similar to something that is happening for a lot of women at work, which is, to me, likability is the final frontier of bias. It’s like the final place where it is acceptable for me to pull you aside and be like Claire, I just really don’t think Jenny, and for us to then have an entire catty conversation about that, that really is often predicated on, Jenny has a very different style than I have Jenny shows up in the world very differently than I have. Jenny has very different lived experiences. And those are naturally creating some conflict. And instead of working through what that conflict is, I’m going to chalk this up to the fact that she’s just not my jam. And I think one of the things we can all do is always interrogate that question. I think my husband has found it really helpful the process of my going through his book where he’s like, I’m not going to say I don’t like this person. I’m like, okay, go ahead, like, tell me what it is, then. And you often get to a much more meaningful answer. And I also realized that this is sort of all dark. So let me offer you an element of hope, which is, I found it very interesting during this last presidential election, when there was a lot of conversation around who Joe Biden was going to pick as his vice presidential running mate, and we knew that it was going to be a woman, woman of color, and all of a sudden, I tend to credit Stacey Abrams for this, but it could have just as easily been someone else. Normally when your name gets floated for vice president, people dim your they, like don’t want to talk about it, and they’re like, whatever he picks will be great. All of a sudden, they’re all of these women who are saying yes, I would like to be vice president. And let me tell you why. I think I would be the best potential running mate. And then they would button it up with and whomever he chooses, you know, I will support. The fact that it wasn’t just one woman out there by herself. But there was a whole lineup of accomplished powerful women who were singing from the same song book and saying, I want this, and I deserve this. It meant one there was less to pick apart and talk about it wasn’t Stacey Abrams strategy or Kamala Harris’s strategy or […], they were all doing it, and it became the norm. And I think that is part of where we want to move to where it’s just not unusual for us to see women in positions of power, it’s not unusual to see women just go for what they want and do their thing and be themselves. And that there’s, it almost becomes just less interesting to us. That I think is, is part of where we want ahead.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 20:54
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I mean, I think that’s how we have to do is the only way right. What kinds of things do you think men face? Or what have you discovered that men face that are similar or also difficult in the public sphere? I mean, they have to have their own set of stone.
Alicia Mendez 21:09
Yeah. I chose gender as the lens through which to look at this. I think there are lots of different people who experienced this. I think, just to be clear, the reason I think gender plays out so differently here is yes, there are men who care about being well liked. Yes, there are men who worry that there are not yes, there are men who are seen as unlikable. You know, there are entire articles about Ted Cruz not being a likable character, he still gets elected. And, you know, there are still CEOs who ascend to positions of power, who were not seen as likable leaders. I think that is incredibly rare for women.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 21:45
Cory Booker has gotten a lot of heat about his demeanor.
Alicia Mendez 21:49
Yeah, I mean, on the other side, which is, you know, not being super alpha, or, you know, being seen as sensitive. I think this is not my word. But, you know, being seen as corny, you know, those things haunt people in one of the […] I find interesting is, you know, there’s a real penalty as a woman to having an RBF, a face that at rest does not look particularly happy. I have one you cannot see me google it; I promise you’ll understand.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 22:16
It’s a resting bitchface.
Alicia Mendez 22:19
And for men, it’s baby face, right? That like baby face is very often just not seen. As someone who is necessarily a commanding leader, there is an exception. And that exception is for black male leaders, who very often are stereotyped or perceived as being aggressive. And their baby face actually kind of like flips that and allows people to see them as a perfect blend of warmth and strength. And that I think, for men is they’re not allowed to cry at their desk, they’re not allowed to show emotion, they’re not allowed to come to work as their complete selves either the same way that women there’s a penalty for being angry, there’s a big penalty for men when they’re sad and vulnerable and express that and you can’t tell people you want them to bring their whole selves to work. And if you’re bringing your whole self to work, there’s some complication and some mess in there. And then you have to be ready to receive
Claire Bidwell-Smith 23:41
How is the media these days? You know, you went into it curious and probably really wanting to make change, like tell us something hopeful about the media these days, because I’m sure that there was some times of real disillusionment.
Alicia Mendez 23:55
I mean, I think it’s never been the work has never been more important the work of separating fact from fiction the work of being reliable and having people know that you’ll show up and be with them in these moments and be clear about what is happening you know, like that’s a thing that my staff is always we use a program right I top line them but it’s the equivalent of digitally shouting out the Office Store which is like this needs more context, seems more contacts don’t assume that people remember who this person is. Don’t assume that people remember the five events that have preceded this these events and taking the time to connect the dots for people I mean, that’s the other thing that motherhood changed for me which is when my television not is on, it’s dominated by Disney plus. You know, when we’re in the car, we are listening to the Molly of Denali podcasts like we are. My consumption has changed and with that, I actually I think have become a better storyteller, because I am reminded that not everyone is sitting in front of their computer or their phone, their television screen 24/7. And that if there’s a little piece of news or context that you miss, it is incumbent upon me to bring that back to fold that into not make assumptions about when you started following a story or how much of it you know, and to always be setting the stakes. Why does this matter? Why are we talking about this?
Claire Bidwell-Smith 25:25
that’s so good to hear. That’s so helpful. That’s so smart, and also generous and just thoughtful.
Alicia Mendez 25:34
I’m working on not rejecting compliments. So I’m working and just studying the discomfort of having someone say something nice about me.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 25:43
Rejecting compliments, that’s something we’re all really good at, isn’t it? Why do we do that? I mean, that goes back to like the same thing. I don’t think men reject compliments as much as women do.
Alicia Mendez 25:53
Yeah, it’s like, the worst thing would be to hear someone say something negative about me, the second worst thing would be to hear somebody say something positive, I have to accept it. And yeah, I think about this a lot. I think about feedback a lot. And the ways in which, you know, one of the things that happens to women is that because there’s this perception that we, you know, can’t handle feedback, or that we’re fragile that often people just don’t give women good feedback, or they’ll upwardly distort feedback to be more positive than is. And I thought about all the times I’ve done that as a manager all the times that was done to me, and I was like, great, I’m doing great, thank you. And it didn’t occur to me to say, like, okay, but what more could I do? How am I gonna level up? How am I going to advance myself? And to become a person who really pushes for that type of feedback, knowing that very often it’s not given and a person I’m given critical, subjective feedback, which is like most of the feedback that women get, to learn how to say, can you tell me how that impacts the results of my work, you know, to not just take everyone’s feedback, as an expression of fact, sometimes it is an expression of preference, sometimes it is subjective. I think one of the things about getting older is being able to sift through that feedback, whether it’s like feedback from like your mom and your sister about your hair. Or it’s feedback from your boss about how you talk in a meeting. Knowing that you don’t have to just accept and process all of it like some of that you can be like, thank you so much. And then you can toss it in the trash.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 27:32
Yeah, no, that’s, that’s really helpful to think about. And it sounds like the same kinds of conversations you’re having with your husband, when you’re probing him to go a little deeper of just like, what do you mean, you just don’t like them? Like, why? You know what’s coming up for you? A lot of times when we don’t like someone, it’s they’re reflecting something in us that we don’t like, you know?
Alicia Mendez 27:50
Yes, absolutely something that you don’t like, or something that we didn’t go for, right? I think that happens to it’s a form of envy that creeps in really naturally. Like why was he brave enough to do that thing? Why is she bold enough to do that? I mean, as someone who struggles with knew we were talking about being a public person, when I see someone who’s sort of figured it out, or seems to have figured it out, or has great comfort, self-promoting, there’s always first a part of me, it’s like you gross, and then a part secondarily, it’s like, oh, that’s because they are capable of doing the thing that I actually would like to be able to harness as a skill that I understand has value. And so I am judging them, instead of doing the more uncomfortable work of figuring out how I do the same in a way that is authentic to me.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 28:43
Yeah, yeah, you write about that in the book too. Just the more successful a woman becomes, the more she’s subjected to this kind of tearing down or scrutiny and, and you know, you can see it on social media, just in really simple ways. You know, the bigger someone gets on there, the more people start, like disliking them, tearing them down, questioning, you know what they’re after. But there’s, you know, I think that what you’re saying is just that, that there is sometimes that piece of envy, that’s kind of lurking underneath it.
Alicia Mendez 29:12
And I also think are used to be that you compared yourself to your next door, if you’re a person who dabbled in comparisons, that you compared yourself to your next door neighbor and you compared yourself to the person in the cubicle over for you. Then part of what social media has done is like you can compare yourself to anybody, your universe of comparison becomes so much wire. And I think that’s really tricky, where all of a sudden, it’s like you’re comparing, I’ve been guilty of this. I’ll compare myself to some mom who I proceeded to like really have her stuff together where I’m like, wow, first day of school like everyone has a fresh hairdo. Their clothes are pressed.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 29:56
They’ve got chalkboards.
Alicia Mendez 30:01
And it’s like, well, I don’t know, I don’t know what she did the rest of the week. I don’t know whether or not her kids are happy. I don’t know, like, I don’t know. And so instead I’m just comparing myself to someone about, you know whom I have three data points. And it doesn’t, it doesn’t serve me in any way.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 30:23
What can we be doing as women to lift ourselves up lift each other up more?
Alicia Mendez 30:28
I think one thing is to take a really clear look at your language and the language we use to describe people. And so I’ve thought about my own language lots. So for example, one of the greatest compliments you could give me Claire is to call me helpful, she was really helpful to me, I’ll just die, I’d love that so much, I’d actually accept that compliment. The challenge of the word helpful is that when applied to a woman who’s in an entry level position, for example, she’s often seen as a person who was really helpful, because she got everybody coffee, or she was really helpful. Because she cleaned up after the office party wouldn’t maybe she was really helpful, because she was the principal point of contact with all of the principals in a meeting. And so one of the things I learned is to strip the word helpful out in a workplace environment, and instead be really specific about what it was that a person delivered. You know, she was really helpful in this specific way. This is the way she contributed to the team, because then all of a sudden, you can actually measure her value. You know, is a person emotional? Or are they passionate? Because emotional generally not seen as a strength in the workplace passionate? Yes. Is the person deliberate? Or are they indecisive? People don’t want to work with someone who’s indecisive. They do want to work with someone who’s deliberate and really careful about the decisions that they make. Is she aggressive? Or does she really deliver for her team? I mean, just those frames, and we all use them, like every year, like you’re not gonna get this right or perfect the first time. But I catch myself and then you start catching others and not like I got you like, there you are expressing your bias, but in a way where it’s like, when like, is she assertive? Or is she getting it done? Could she get it done? Without being assertive? Would you say that don is as assertive as she is, you know, there, I think there are ways to play with it that give people the space to really question it. If it were a one-time choice between being likable or being successful than I would tell you to choose success, every time because even if you choose likability, it is so wildly subjective, that you will never be able to guarantee that outcome. And you cannot become successful unless you actually set your eyes on success and make that a thing that you want and that you’re willing to own. And so yeah, it’s like complicated. And there’s a lot that women are navigating, I think we have to be honest with them about what they’re navigating, like. I think that’s like some of the advice has seemed as though if you just ask the right way, if you just, if you just do this the right way, if you just show up the right way, if you sit in your chair in the right way in the meeting, the world is your oyster. And I think that creates the sense that the problem is on women, and the solution is on women. And I think it’s about shifting that burden to all of us.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 33:22
Yeah, yeah. Those are good things to think about. What like last question what kind of advice do you have for like a young woman going into the workplace or into a public sphere, you know, a woman in our early 20s. Now that now that we’ve learned so much, we’ve learned what happens if we’re not, you know, at least paying attention to that feeling of incongruence and thinking about it.
Alicia Mendez 33:49
Let me give you one more thing that I think we can all do for these women because I’m not this generation is so different than us. And I that like in an amazing quote my husband always says the most millennial thing about me is how much I love Gen Z’ers that it’s like they’re rolling their eyes at you. We were raised with if you found the right mentor that that person would just like the Wizard of Oz, pull back a curtain and reveal your perfect career and your perfect life. They give you advice they give you counsel. I think we need to shift our attention to finding sponsors and becoming sponsors ourselves. And that is someone who really creates opportunity for you in your industry in your if you work in the same space, who has a big Rolodex, who’s willing to leverage that Rolodex in your service who’s willing to put you up for promotions, or even just say your name in a room full of opportunities and possibilities, right, to say like, I think that that opportunity needs to go to Claire. I think Claire is ready for that assignment. I think Claire’s ready to make that jump. Those are the things that actually propel a person’s career. Right? You and I could sit here all day and talk about whether or not you need a haircut like that’s not actually the thing that is gonna allow you to jump a level, the thing that’s going to allow you to jump a level is me calling in a universe of my media contacts and saying, I think that in addition to having an audio platform, she needs a video platform, right? Those are the things that like really remake a person’s career. And if that sounds like too much of a commitment, I think even just doing these things, from time to time for people are huge. Finding those ways where you can really be useful. A small thing I always is like, I’m sure you have this where people come to you and they clearly want like, a lady therapist. For me, it’s like Hispanic Heritage Month, people want like a Latina speaker. And I have a list of people that I give people when I am not available for whatever reason, right? Where I’m like, here are people you should consider. And here are people who would be even better than I would be. Those are all things we can do. And then for women, we’re entering the workforce, I think I would just say you know that you are entering the workforce at a really tricky time. Like there, I think one of the realities of living in the world and working in the workplace, after the latest incarnation of the me to movement is that there has been some change, and is sort of in the atmosphere that things are supposed to be changing. That doesn’t necessarily mean that workplaces have done the work it takes to be the environments that they need to be and to give people the opportunity that they need to give. So if it feels like act like, what are the rules? Like it’s not the old rules don’t apply? It doesn’t feel like the new rules have been completely written. Can I have a hand in writing the new rules? And if people like me who are trying to be good mentors feel like we’re giving you advice that is as dated as our side parts.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 36:47
My 13 year old would love to talk to you about my side part. You’ve got great hair, Claire, don’t change a thing. Thank you so much, Alicia, this has been really helpful. Honestly, like your book has been really helpful to me, just in terms of this place I am in my life right now. Just reflecting on how I got here, who I am, who I’m not. And I just really appreciate you taking the time today.
Alicia Mendez 37:12
I love you, Claire. And I feel like what we actually just need to do is have a two way therapy session, separate and aside about how we’re gonna figure out who we are in this next chapter.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 37:23
I love it. Let’s do it. All right. Thank you so much.
Alicia Mendez 37:27
Claire, thank you so much.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 37:36
This conversation with Alicia is such a gift and has sparked so much introspection for me. I’m sure it’s doing the same for you, especially that question of what we choose if we had a one-time choice between being likable or being successful, and all the complicated pitfalls that come with both. I’m so grateful to Alicia for gifting us this analysis and this intervention. And now It’s homework time. Let’s direct our mind’s eye inward and examine have we fallen into the likeability drop? Or maybe how we’ve helped enforce it? What are ways we can advance our lives or careers outside of that? And how are we going to change our reaction to people’s compliments about ourselves? That’s it for today. Make sure you subscribe to the show so that you never miss an episode because there are three episodes every week now. Have a great weekend and see you Monday.
NEW DAY is a Lemonada Media Original. The show is produced by Kryssy Pease and Erianna Jiles. Kat Yore is our engineer. Music is by Hannis Brown. Our VP of weekly content is Steve Nelson. And our executive producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer, and me, Claire Bidwell Smith. NEW DAY is produced in partnership with the Well Being Trust, The Jed Foundation and Education Development Center. Help others find our show by leaving us a rating and writing a review. Follow us at @LemonadaMedia across all social platforms, or find me at clairebidwellsmith.com. Join our Facebook group to connect with me and fellow NEW DAY listeners at facebook.com/groups/newdaypod. You can also get bonus content and behind the scenes material by subscribing to Lemonada Premium on Apple podcasts. Thanks for listening. See you next week.