Podcast Transcript

Every Journey Begins With a Single Step

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Welcome, everyone to this very first inaugural podcast kicking off Your Authentic Path to Powerful Leadership with Marsha Clark. Marsha, how does it feel to be here?

Marsha Clark:
Well, let me also add my welcome to all our viewers and our listeners out there. This being our first our inaugural podcast, Wendi, I'm scared to death.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
I know.

Marsha Clark:
If I'm being totally honest, this is-

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
But that we don't have lipstick on our teeth, so we're good!

Marsha Clark:
There's a range of emotions as you might imagine. So there's the excitement, there's the joy, there's the anticipation, and there's the nervousness, the anxiety, and the wish that it's good, right? That we want to deliver value to our viewers and our listeners, and that we really want this to be a conversation, and we want you to join in our conversation. And so that's the hope for what we're trying to do here to share information with you.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Right, exactly. So Marsha, you had spent your entire career, and we're going to get into Marsha's background here in a second. But towards the end of it in front of audiences and doing keynote speaking, how is this podcast experience differing from that?

Marsha Clark:
As we were getting our makeup done today, I was thinking about in corporate America, I was doing some sort of presentation, whether it'd be video, town hall or something once or twice a week. And so it's one thing to be representing an organization, a function or something along those lines or even teaching content because I've taught around the world. And yet this is feeling very personal, very intimate, very vulnerable, and it's been a while since I felt that way, I have to be honest with you. But the idea of, I didn't know what a podcast was many years ago, right?

Marsha Clark:
They didn't exist, and so the idea of putting myself out there and putting it all on the line for all to hear, recognizing that in this line of work, there's going to be some who deny, resist, confront, challenge, whatever, I'm okay and ready for that. I know that that's part of it. And yet, the strong desire to just be the best that we can be and deliver as much value as we can.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Excellent, excellent. So I want to start chronologically. Let's start with your background, and then take us all the way up to this experience.

Marsha Clark:
So this experience today. So if I go way back, I have been in the workforce now for almost 50 years. It's the first time I've actually said that out loud. So being in the workforce, starting in a secretarial typing pool in my first job, I worked for the Small Business Administration, and I started in the district office in Houston, moved to the Dallas regional office. That's how I ended up here in Dallas, and then really wanted to make a career change because the government was a little slow for me. It was a great learning ground, and technology was kind of the thing back in those days, still even newer than everything new that comes out in today's world.

Marsha Clark:
And so I ended up working at a company called EDS, founded by Ross Perot, 1962 and I joined there in 1978, and my transferable skill was a secretarial position. So I started as a secretary, and I left as a corporate officer of a Fortune 50 company. So 21 years later. And when I think about that and how that informs my work, and prepares me to support the clients and the program participants that I have, about half of my time in corporate America was spent in support tech function.

Marsha Clark:
So I've run all of HR, I've done strategic alliances, mergers acquisitions, all that kind of stuff. And also have done customer facing client serving. I was an account executive for our largest financial services account, I was president of our healthcare SBU, strategic business unit, where I managed hundreds of millions in revenue and over 2,500 people. So in all of that, I learned a lot about business. When I think about the clients I have men or women, I bring two things from that. One is I have great empathy and compassion for how hard their jobs are. And I think a lot of people can just criticize and sit on the sidelines and point fingers and blame and judge and do all that. I don't do that because I get it. I've been there, I've sat in that chair, it's hard.

Marsha Clark:
The other thing, and this is when I do a little bit of humor with my clients is, you can't blow smoke up my skirt. Right? So what I mean by that is, they'll say, "Well, I could never do that." "Well, you could, because I've done it." And so this idea of I'm going to challenge them, but from a place of there I say love and support, so that corporate background has helped inform me. And then I went back and got my Master's of Science in Organization Development in the late '90s. So I was 46 years old when I started my master's program, and started my company shortly thereafter.

Marsha Clark:
And so, being an entrepreneur and businesswoman who focuses on leadership and executive development, and we deliver that primarily through individual coaching, the teaching programs that we do that can be short term, long term, wide variety, in house, public programs, and so on. And then we're adding two new things, which brings us to where we are today, which is writing a book, and then also this podcast, because right now my big word is accessibility. So what I want to do is give our listeners and our viewers, access to the information. I get questions all the time of, "Where were you when I was 25? Or when are you going to write a book about this? Or how can I share this with my team or my daughter or my next door neighbor or my mother even?" And so this is going to give us some whole new avenues by which to distribute and share this information.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Exactly. So I'm reminded Now, for those of you who are watching and listening, I've known Marsha for several years now and went through her program. And so one module lesson of her program was something around Dr. Meg Wheatley's, Eight Fearless Questions. So talk to us about that and what that means for you right now.

Marsha Clark:
Yeah, so the Fearless Questions, the whole word fearless, is very provocative and I love provocative. So one of those, is does the world need us to be fearless, and so Meg's work came out some years ago when it seemed that yes, the world needed us to be fearless then. And when I think about what we've been through in the last year and a half, it needs that more than ever now. And my guess is five years from now, 10 years from now, it will still need that from us. And so the idea of being fearless, is being uncomfortable and anxious and doing it anyway, sort of the definition of courage or bravery.

Marsha Clark:
And so when I think about this work, I have been a human rights activist and a feminist from early years. I grew up in the '60s when a lot of really hard and bad things were happening to people who were different. And I also saw the civil rights legislation, women's rights legislation passed, and my heart is in that work. I will also tell you that I had a sister who was a special needs sister who was six years younger than me, and she taught me empathy and unconditional love. And so the idea of everybody's got a story, everybody's working on something, we're all humans, and we need to be there for one another and love one another. And so I'm all about peace, love and kindness.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
I love it. I love it.

Marsha Clark:
And that's a big part of the fearlessness because it does require that, and then I want to offer this, there are people who will want to deny and resist and tear down and I want to help women to build women up, to be the best that they can be, and to be that in a way that they don't lose themselves in the process.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Exactly, exactly. So I want all of our listeners and our viewers to understand that it's really tempting for me to just jump into the lessons with Marsha, because she is so knowledgeable about all things, women's leadership. But why are we specifically talking about authentic leadership?

Marsha Clark:
Yeah, this gets back to the, in the early days, I described it as and not lose ourselves in the process, because we had so many women come through our programs, who felt like they had lost a part of themselves. Where was that 22 year old or that 25 year old who thought the world that we could do anything, right? And I was told I could be anything and when I looked around in my generation, women were stay at home moms. Wonderful, wonderful decision. Nurses, teachers or secretaries, and so on and so on.

Marsha Clark:
And so I wanted more, and I wanted to help women be more and thank goodness, we have a lot more options available to us today. And so the authentic part is how do I bring the best parts of me? My values, my principles, my strengths, my talents, my skills, my experience, my perspective to the table, where big decisions are being made and influences being wielded, and I want to help women be at those tables.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Okay, so that's one tiny piece, I want you to tell us about your intention for this podcast. What do you want whoever's listening to get out of it?

Marsha Clark:
So ladies, I guess it's mostly ladies out there, what I want you to get from this is that, we're your biggest supporters, we're a resource to you to help you think about... Well, first of all, to know what the research tells us about ourselves. Your experience is different from the next woman's experience, and yet both are real and valid. And so I want us to honor that, respect that, hear that, giveaway and value to that. And if you have questions or thoughts or challenges or opportunities, I want you to see us as a resource, because in this work, Wendi, as you know, there's more and more research being done about women. And so we have that to rely on in big ways.

Marsha Clark:
The second is we want to give you anecdotal stories, so not only my own stories and your stories, also, the women. I've worked with women over 60 different countries, and there's some universal truths from the women's perspective, and I want to bring those stories to you as well, so that we can learn from one another. The research shares, speaking of research, that women learn through stories and through relationships, and we want to take some time to build those relationships through stories and through sharing.

Marsha Clark:
And then the last piece that many people tell me differentiates the work that I do from a lot of women's leadership programs, is I want to give you tools and language. So there's a lot of here's what you need to do, but not a lot of how you can go about actually applying it or executing against it or making it work for you. And so we're going to give you lots of tools. And one of my beliefs is that good leaders know they have a toolkit, great leaders know what tool to use when. And so we're going to give you some information with some tools that we hope will help you know how to navigate and get your desired outcomes in a way again, that is unique and authentic to you.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Yes. So this podcast is intended for professionally minded women. Who are they?

Marsha Clark:
Yeah, so I will tell you. That was, who's your target audience? It's a real marketing question, right? So we agonized over that. What I would love for our listeners to know is that this program was launched in my living room with a group of women. We took the art off the wall, we put a bunch of sticky notes up there with all kinds of brainstorming ideas. And so answering those important questions, what is it we're trying to do? Mission, vision, values. And then-

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Who are we talking to?

Marsha Clark:
Who are we talking to? Who are we going to target? The idea of professionally minded women, we intend to cover a broad spectrum. So we design the content as well as the programs and where we go for registration or for clients for profits, not for profit, healthcare, education, government, military, ministry. We've had poets, dancers, authors, storytellers. I mean, it's been a broad, wide range of women by design. Here's what I will tell you. I had traveled to many countries in the world, and I thought I really was this worldly global person. And what I realized is I lived in a bubble and it was a technology company bubble that was full of really smart people who were really focused in creating an industry and align and yet that wasn't the woman world. And so how did I broaden and it has been one of the most beautiful gifts ever.

Marsha Clark:
We called the program The Power of Self and I laughingly say it was for me, everybody else just got to come along for the ride because I was trying to really begin to recognize and understand having left corporate America and like many, I knew what my company did, and I knew what my job title was and I knew what my responsibilities were. And I was a mother and I was a wife and I was a daughter and I was a sister. Who was I without all those label?

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Right, labels.

Marsha Clark:
And so where is that personal power, and that's a part of what really drove this program.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Right. So I have a note here that the professionally minded woman, is women who are interested in learning more about themselves. Natural strengths, talents, and skills. They are seekers who are looking for ways to call out and celebrate their authentic passions.

Marsha Clark:
Yeah. So when you look at all of that, no matter what role I'm playing, how can I be my best me. And how do I then offer my gifts to the world in a way that is meaningful, relevant, valuable, and that honors me, and my values and principles.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Right, so I'm going to take a pause for a moment and share my personal story and what attracted me to your program.

Marsha Clark:
Please.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
So I went through Marsha's program, 2017 and 2018. So her program starts in September and goes through the following May. And I was at a critical juncture in a company that my husband and I had co-founded. And at that time, he needed me to step up and become the CEO of the company. And I've always personally felt comfortable in a number two role. I've always thought of myself as I'm a great number two, and I think a lot of women think of themselves in that way, they think of themselves as number two. And so here was this opportunity and also this challenge of, okay, I'm going to be responsible for 20 people on a team, and I'm going to also not only be the CEO of the company, I'm going to be the face and the lead salesperson of the company. How do I psychologically not mess all these people up over the course of them, continuing to work with us in our company? So that was my story was coming into the program.

Marsha Clark:
I remember the conversation.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Oh, I know.

Marsha Clark:
Again, in my living room. We've had lots of great conversations in my living room.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Yes, yes. So I just wanted to share that with our audience that this podcast that Marsha is launching is all about a journey. And I foolishly came into this program thinking, "Okay, when I graduate in May, that means I am the world's perfect CEO. I'm going to get a plaque percent done."

Marsha Clark:
I'm done now.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
"I'm done now. I can call it all done," but no. So we wanted everyone to know that this is going to be an ongoing journey with this podcast.

Marsha Clark:
Well, and even as we designed our programs and even as we've written the book, Embracing Your Power: A Woman's Path To Authentic Leadership And Meaningful Relationships. It is with adult learning theory in mind which says, we're going to learn some things, we're going to go practice some things. We're going to learn some more things, we're going to go practice some things. So we invite you, whether it be through programming that we offer, and you can find all of that on our website, and we'll give you that website address at the end of the show, or whether it's reading the book.

Marsha Clark:
I even wrote the book within mind that says you can read it individually, and you can make your notes because we're going to give you lots of tools and questions and thoughts and checklists, or you can read it with one other person or a book club or an employee resource group for women in your company or whatever, because we learn, again, going back to we learn through stories and relationships. So this idea of take a chapter a month, and write your answers, compare answers, I hadn't thought of that. I have that too, and that learning from one another really is amazing. And that's the way we want you to take this in because it's overwhelming, otherwise.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
It is.

Marsha Clark:
We all know that, are you drinking from a firehose, where it's just overwhelming, and we know that the learning is more sustainable when it's learn, practice, learn, practice. So we've designed most things with that in mind.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Exactly. So tell us moving from teaching your program and not only your program that you designed, The Power of Self, but Marsha has also designed custom programs for big Fortune 10, Fortune 50 companies, and teaching those programs all over the world. So how have you or what are you thinking about as you transition from delivering those programs all over the world to delivering that same content and amazing learning here on this podcast?

Marsha Clark:
So it's been an interesting journey, I have to tell you my own journey on this path. So what I learned early on, so I would say about the first five years, people weren't just buying the program, as people often said to me, "We're buying you." So the experience and the knowledge because I did lead the effort, it wasn't just me that built it, but I led the effort to build it with lots of great help. And then we had the opportunity to sell the program in house and go to another country, and we found it works. Then, we did some different variations of the program, three day versions, and five day versions and 12 day versions of a 19 day of The Power of Self program.

Marsha Clark:
So we got to see that work, and then I had the opportunity where someone actually bought the intellectual property. We customized it for their company, and it was my job to transition the facilitation of the program from me to them. So it was through some of those processes that I came to truly believe and understand, and we demonstrated that the value of the content with the right facilitation, and it didn't have to be me, was just as powerful. And it wasn't that I was ever arrogant enough to think it was only me, we just knew that it was also not just an overnight, come to a three day certification program, we stamp you and you're done because to learn 12 days of content or 15 days of content, doesn't happen easily.

Marsha Clark:
So with the design that we've had, it has been individual learning, small group learning, large group learning, lots of assessments, and the design of both the books and the programs does start with self. So this idea of our own self-awareness, the research shows us that one of the biggest derailleurs of our effective leadership, is I think I'm showing up to the world one way and the world is seeing me a very different way, so I got to close that gap. And this program helps you say, who am I as a woman? Who am I as a woman leader, who am I as a powerful woman leader? And as even acknowledging that we can be powerful, much less embracing that we can be powerful, is a stretch.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
It is.

Marsha Clark:
Because it's not the messages we've been getting for rest of our lives.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Right. The messages that we've been getting, is exactly what I said earlier, we're number two.

Marsha Clark:
That's exactly right.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
We're their accessory.

Marsha Clark:
That's right, that's right, or the woman behind the man, or I do all the work, they present and get all the credit. All of those are stories-

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
All of those things.

Marsha Clark:
That we've experienced along the way. So we start with self, we then go to interpersonal, and that's what this first book is about. And then the second book is going to be Expanding Your Power, and it's going to be about inspiring teams and influencing organizations. So now we're going bigger, right? It's like a bull's eye turn. Self interpersonal team organization, and we're also going to look at women in the world because we're not in this, little, the I liked.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Exactly, we're a global-

Marsha Clark:
We're a global community, a society, however you want to think about that. And so that's where we're going. And then the third book is actually going to be Enriching Your Power: A Woman's Opportunity and Choice to Lift Others Up. So how do we pay it forward? And women supporting women, is one of the big areas thriving forces of the world.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Oh, yes. So as you were working with women all over the world, what were the consistent lessons or ideas or challenges that you heard?

Marsha Clark:
Here's my labeling or phrasing around what I heard. Just show up and do the work. Don't demand a lot, don't speak up a lot. It was like keep your head down, just do good work and I'll be recognized, knowing that that's not the way it works. It's a myth. And so voices were quieted. Who am I to speak up? Who am I to stand up? Who am I to have a point of view? Those are universal no matter where I go and what I do. We also know that men and women can behave almost identically, and it can be interpreted very differently because of whether you call it stereotypes or unconscious biases or whatever it may be, "Wait a minute, you're not acting the way I think you should be acting, because women don't do that."

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
And if they do, what are they?

Marsha Clark:
They're whatever B word you want to, so bully, bossy, and other B ones.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Yes, Yes, yes.

Marsha Clark:
So it's like we can't win. So if I'm quiet, then my voice isn't hurting [inaudible 00:24:55]. If I'm too loud, then they say shoosh. So how do we do learn to do that? And so what we try to offer women through the work in the book and this podcast that you're going to hear session after session is, how do we recognize where we want to go and how we want to be and show up in this situation? What tools do I need? What tone and language do I need? What stance and stature do I need, and then how do I go make that happen? And so, it starts with clarity, that clarity of what am I trying to accomplish? Who am I talking to? And how do I want to show up in this conversation?

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Right. So around the core content of the program, has a book always been on your mind?

Marsha Clark:
Yeah.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Okay.

Marsha Clark:
Okay. So one of those sticky notes on the wall in my living room, was write a book. And at the time, it was when Oprah was still on in the afternoon show and she had her Oprah book clubs, and everybody wanted to get on Oprah's books clubs, one because she bought a lot of books came away. And if Oprah said it was a good book, it must be a good book. And so I laughingly, I was like, "Let's wait just a minute here. I think we have to do something first."

Marsha Clark:
So we've got great plans, we've got great ideas, we've got great hopes and aspirations. And now, at this point in time, 22 years later, it's time to write the book. And I get asked often, the question of, "Where were you when I was 25?" And I'm like, "I don't know if many of us were ready to hear some of this at 25."

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
That's true.

Marsha Clark:
So there's that aspect of it.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
That's very true.

Marsha Clark:
And yet, I think some 25 year olds are ready. And we had some young women in our programs along the way that were ready. The other piece is, when are you going to write a book because again, I go back to that accessibility, I want this to be more available, more readily available to more women around the world, because I can't run enough programs or coach enough people, nor can I build a group of associates who can do that enough. And this is my hope that this podcast, the book can spread the word.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Right. Now, for our audience, please note that there are three books in the pipeline. So I'm going to have Marsha say the names of all three books in the order that they will be coming out, but the first one is coming out in October of 2021.

Marsha Clark:
Yea, so it's called Embracing Your Power. And as I said, you got to first acknowledge you have it, understand it, and then begin to embrace it. And the subtitle for that is, A Woman's Path to Authentic Leadership, which again, is holding on to ourselves as we move through our journey, and a path to meaningful relationships. So how do we create those in ways that are rich, deep, supportive and sustained. And the second book is Expanding Your Power, and I haven't written it yet. So we don't have any release date for you.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
But it will be done, it will be done.

Marsha Clark:
It will be done. And it's one of those things that it's up in my head, it's just going to try write down my arm to write it and get it down. So it's just a matter of carving out that time, which I now understand and know how to do much better now that I've written the first one. But it's Expanding Your Power: A Woman's Opportunity to Inspire Teams and Influence Organizations. So how do I lead high performing teams, putting appropriate expectations, checks and balances? How do I influence organizations and really have an opportunity to look at policies and procedures and practices that may not serve women as well as they could, and that we might want them to? And so how can I make those things happen.

Marsha Clark:
And then the third book is going to be Enriching Your Power: A Woman's Choice to Lift Others Up, which is about paying it forward, and making sure that we're helping women. We're standing on the shoulders of the women who have come before us, we need to develop broad shoulders, so women in the future can stand on ours as well.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Yes, yes. So do you find that the content is just as relevant today as it was when you first started this work? And if so, how does that make you happy, and how does that make you sad?

Marsha Clark:
So the answer is yes to all [inaudible 00:29:22]. You knew I was going to say that. So when we first started this work, what I will tell you is we looked around to see if there was another women's program out there that would be a competition, because that's the first thing you do, good business people know their competitions. So what we found is that university programs with women's studies or women's history, were out there, but that wasn't what we were doing. Then we found one particular program that was called, it was in San Francisco and it was called [The Bully School 00:29:51]. Now, if that doesn't tick you off enough, the mantra or the tagline for this company is where you send your women to smooth off their rough edges, and this was in 2000. So in other words, let's be the soft.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Let's smooth that over.

Marsha Clark:
So we thought, well, we can do better than that.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Yeah, exactly.

Marsha Clark:
So we looked around, and we also knew that we wanted to really bring in the best work that was available. So we didn't have to create it all ourselves. So we created a large partnership with a lot of people, and many of those partnerships still exist today. So when you say what is the same and different? I love our partnerships. We've got some really [inaudible 00:30:36].

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
And I want to interject real quick. A lot of these partnerships will be guests on this podcast.

Marsha Clark:
That's right, that's right.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
So I'm super excited about that.

Marsha Clark:
Yeah, they're amazing. And typically, women had not been included in the research around what leadership was. And even today, if you say the word leadership, probably six out of 10 people would immediately think of a man, not a woman. So we didn't have a lot of role models, we didn't more in the research, there weren't books. Typically, but I would say from 2000 to about 2008 or 2009, there was one book a year written about a woman in leadership, and we all ran to buy it and read it, and talked about it everyday.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Yes, it hit the number one New York Times bestseller because of that.

Marsha Clark:
So now there's more research, more role models, more books being written about and foreign by women, so that we're broadening the definition of what leadership looks like, that's a wonderful change. The other thing is that women are more supportive of each other in today's world than they were when we first started. And Gail Evans, who was one of the first female vice presidents at Turner Broadcasting, wrote a book, She Wins, You Win. And it really was one woman being elevated to more hierarchical positional power, raises all boats, right? That's that premise.

Marsha Clark:
And so that was really important as a concept of let's get behind each other. And women supporting women, as I said, is one of our mantras. So that has changed pretty dramatically, we now get it. And the third thing is that women were not believed to be risk takers, which is another part of that number two role. So as more research was done about, "Well, is that really true or let's get below the surface that women are risk takers." So with the more recent research, and this is only in the last few years, what the more recent research tells us is that women are risk takers, we just typically have a plan B or a contingency plan, or we can pivot more quickly.

Marsha Clark:
And because we thought that through ahead of time, again, trying to keep everything working and running like we do as women, that it doesn't look as risky. And so I appreciate that we're now recognized as being risk takers and big picture thinkers, now that you really have chosen to study how and what we do because men and women often get the same results. How we go about achieving those results, is where some of the differences occur and need to be understood.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Exactly. So I know you got this question back when you first started The Power of Self Program. And the question was, why a women's only program? Do you still get that question today?

Marsha Clark:
Oh, absolutely.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Oh, my God, you just knocked me over with that one, really.

Marsha Clark:
Yeah, because there are some that say, you're discriminating against men if you do women's program, even though men have been the only people in the room for years, but somehow now that gets flipped on its head. Here's why having a women only leadership program is important. So one, the worst thing you can do to a woman is isolate her. So when you're the only one or the first one or one a few in the room, there's a sense of isolation because I'm not like them, the men is what I'm talking about. And even if I am like them, there's still some differences.

Marsha Clark:
The women who saw me interact with the men at EDS said, "You're one of the boys." The boys never thought of me as one of the boys. [crosstalk 00:34:33] I grew up with two brothers. I have a foot in both camps, and I don't have a footnanny camp. I grew up with two brothers and I was a rough and tumble girl that was a tomboy in the American vernacular and I said, I never knew that was going to help me in my business, and yet it did.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
It did, yes.

Marsha Clark:
So I had a pretty strong, masculine side development, what I needed to work on was my feminine development, and so that's a part of what the program and the work that we did helped me to find. And so when I think about, so that's one. We got to figure those things out. Women learn through relationships and stories, and we have created and designed a program that allows for that. So whether it's the reflection questions in the book, whether it's the activities in the book, these are times to slow down, stop, take it all and figure it out. And what I also know is that women ask more questions when it's only women in the room, and they ask their real questions.

Marsha Clark:
So they're not going to ask these questions if men are in the room for a wide variety of reasons. So we want to create the space, the safe space where they can ask whatever they want to know and need to know. And then the other thing is, we want women to learn to ask for what they want. And if we set it up as a design principle of the program and encourage it. And I remember, it was as simple as what sort of soft drinks would you like for us to have in the room during training programs. One woman was a Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper.

Marsha Clark:
There were only two stores in Dallas at the time that we could find it, and we went across town to get that because if you were going to ask, I wanted to meet your request, because I wanted you to get positive reinforcement for asking, again, find that. And that's why we say this program was designed by women for women, and not your daddy's leadership programs.

Marsha Clark:
And there are gender differences and the literature tells us men and women, biologically, physiologically, we're 96 or 97% the same. But we know that three or 4% matters. And so we wanted to talk about what some of those subtle differences were, so that we could recognize them, so we could be successful managing them, strategizing around them. So that's the general basis for women only programs. And if you can indulge me for just a minute.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Sure.

Marsha Clark:
I also want to say for the in house programs that we've been asked to come in and do, there are basically five objectives that most in house programs have. One is, they want to improve performance in the woman's current role, sort of traditional leadership development. The second is, they want to enhance their succession planning or talent management pipeline. So put more women into the pipeline, so that you can eventually get to more women at the top of organizations, because we know that most organizations are 50/50 at the entry level, but it's a pyramid. So the higher up you go, the fewer women there are and we know that upper middle is where that concrete ceiling can fit. So we want to enhance the pipeline.

Marsha Clark:
We then want to accelerate their readiness so that we don't have to wait forever to have women that are ready to be promoted to bigger responsibilities. We also want to retain these high performing high potential women, and by giving them this kind of programming and support, they're more likely to stay and live appreciative and loyal. And in today's world, it also can be an attract high power, high performing, high potential women, because it differentiates your company from others in the marketplace.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Right. So that brings us to the podcast. And I've got a two part question. Number one, what was your inspiration for this? And then number two, how do you see this podcast serving the audience?

Marsha Clark:
So this was kind of the concept of a perfect storm. So one was that, I chose to leave corporate America at a time when a new CEO came into the company. I had worked at EDS for 21 years, and I was one of 44 corporate officers, four of us were women. And at the time, that was pretty good percentage in 1999. And what I knew is that after a while, it took me nine months to make the decision. The first three months was get to know the CEO because he was my new boss. Second three months was, "Do I stay, do I go? Do I stay?" Because I wasn't feeling good. I was not happy, and it was all about the values of the CEO did not align with my personal values, nor the values of the company I had grown up in and I never dreamed I would make this shift and change.

Marsha Clark:
And then the third three months was planning my exit strategy. So it took me nine months to get there, but I left and it was me standing up for my values and principles, and that was a big deal and that was a personal power choice. So that's number one. Second was, I went to something called The Power Lab, and we're going to do as you know, a whole podcast around this. I personally chose to go as like in corporate terms, an individual contributor because I wanted to explore my personal power versus my positional power. And what happened in that program, was women banded together at every level. The senior levels, the middle management level, and the individual contributors, and what we did was change the system. The system of the 24 by seven simulation that we were in.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Right, and we're going to go into detail on this in a later podcast.

Marsha Clark:
Here's what I want you to hear. It was the first experience I had ever had, where when women got together and strategized, they changed the system. Now get that, they changed the system. So this is where the idea of women supporting women and us operating and executing as a bloc, a B-L-O-C, bloc, could move mountains. And as I said, I'd never had that experience, and I wanted to bring that, the power of that at an individual and a collective level to the table, so that was my inspiration.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Okay, and then how do you see this content serving our listeners? What actions do you want to see?

Marsha Clark:
So I want you to get to know yourself better. So I have a leadership maturity continuum, and the first step is self-awareness. Understand your thoughts, your default, your habits, your patterns, to recognize how they serve you well, and how they may work against you. And yet, we can't stay just in the self-awareness. We have to move to self-management. And that is, how am I going to choose to respond to things that come at me? Am I going to lash back out? Am I going to be thoughtful and intentional? Am I going to show up in ways that represent my values and my principles, my strengths, my skills, my talents?

Marsha Clark:
And then the third step is self-determination, which is, what am I going to initiate in the way of creating things for a bigger purpose in serving the larger good. And so what I want our listeners to take away from this is, we're going to give you information that's research based. Take it to heart, do your own research, be open to the possibility of even if it's not your experience, it might be the experience of other women around you in your workplace, in your families, in your communities. So be open to that. The second is really look at the tools that we're providing because tools are big. Frameworks, models, templates, roadmaps, checklist, quotes, phrases.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Songs.

Marsha Clark:
Songs, all of those things are things are going to offer to you as a way of remembering certain principles, leadership principles. And this is a leadership program first. So this is solid leadership, research-based, tools oriented, and then sharing. Sharing your story, hearing the stories of others and broadening our perspectives about what it means to be a woman in the world. So every week, we're going to bring you a podcast. And as I said, it's a conversation. Someone told me, they said the best podcasters it's like somebody is just getting to listen in our conversation, be that fly on the wall.

Marsha Clark:
And what I want you to know is my clients become my friends, and you know that. And someone asked me the other day, "When you meet someone, do you ever let them go?" And I said, "No, they're just with me forever." And it's because I love people and I love the idea of helping people be the best that they can be. And really, that's my hope for what we can bring to each and every one of you is, how can I help you and support you to achieve your definition of success? Not my definition for you or anyone else's definition? What do you want to be when you grow up?

Marsha Clark:
I mean, that's kind of that question. And there's no right or wrong answer and it's uniquely yours. And so I want to get behind you and support you 1,000% with what we share in this program. If you read the book, I hope you will, and the second and third book as it comes out, because I think there's some rich tools in there for you that can help you.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Yep. And the word often authentic and authenticity, is a word that you stream through all of this programming. And I know that as our listeners, over the courses of the weeks that we come out with this podcast, will come to see and hear how authentic you are and that your leadership and your training is coming from the heart and that we're wanting them to be their authentic selves.

Marsha Clark:
That's right. And being authentic is unique to each and every one of you. And we don't want to wear masks, we don't want to conform, we don't want to please everyone else, we want to get really clear. And the authentic part is, there's no one profile of leadership. Leadership is a mindset, it's not a job title. It's a way in which we choose to live our lives. And there's no one profile, that's the right way to do that. And the more we can understand about that and then bring what we have to the table, the better off I think we'll all be.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Exactly. So what is it that drives you, because I know this about you, because I've known you for so many years. Marsha has continuously, like she hasn't built this program and now it's in a tin can, and it doesn't move. She's constantly researching and reading and finding new models and new facts that are coming out. So talk to us about that how this program is really staying cutting edge.

Marsha Clark:
Yeah. So I am an avid reader, and I was talking to somebody yesterday, and they were saying, "What have you done differently as a part of the pandemic?" And I said, "Well, I've read four to six books a month."

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Right, exactly.

Marsha Clark:
And so I'm a lifelong learner, I've always been an avid and agile learner. And so we are and as I said, there's more research being done. And so I always try to validate or corroborate whatever research I find, because you can find outlier research or research that it's not done very well. And so I always want to check to make sure what we're offering and what we're giving is current. And again, it's offered as a way of supporting and helping you and building you up not tearing you down. And we're not here to bash males or do any of that. Everybody is allies. We're all in this together. And so this isn't about that kind of thing. Look, I said I had brothers, I worked with some men that I loved dearly, my husband, my son. I mean, I love them all.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
We're not being haters here.

Marsha Clark:
I'm not tearing them down, and I want you to be the best you. And so we're going to bring you the most current information. And I'll also tell you, there are a couple places in the book, where the research that was true before, is from several years ago is no longer true. Or at least we're hearing and seeing enough evidence from enough different research projects that we're not quite sure where it is. I'll tell you that, I'll say. One body of research says this, another body says this, and you notice for yourself, and draw your own conclusions about whatever system you're in, your family system, your organizational system, or whatever. And so we're really clear about that. I'm not here to tell you what's right or wrong or good or bad. I'm here to present information to you and say, "How can this be helpful?"

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Yep. So we're getting close to the end for this first episode, but there's so much more to come, and I'm so excited about it. But Marsha, tell us, what is your vision for this podcast? And then also, what are a couple of key takeaways from this episode that you want to reinforce?

Marsha Clark:
I want to reinforce that you have power, that each and every one of us and it doesn't have to be positional power. And in fact, people give you positional power, and therefore people can take that away from you. But your personal power, it may come from a higher power, and I believe in that as well. And yet, I believe that the greatest gift that I've been given is one of freewill and to make choices. I have a vision that we will help women know what their options might be, what considerations they need to take into account to make this choice versus this choice versus this choice to be accountable for our choices, the good, the bad, the ugly, the intended and unintended consequences of our choices. And I hope you find value in this. That's the bottom line.

Marsha Clark:
I want us to be useful to you, and I want to help you in any way that we can. And that's why I want to give you resources, I want to give you information, I want to give you those tools. And my goal is that if it's valuable for you, that you'll share it with other women in your life. And I hope that we have some men who are willing to learn about this because as you know in most programs, we take a bet on how long it takes the staff does for somebody to say, "What a man go to have to learn something about working with women?" And I hope that we get to that place where because that is a part of when we're all in it together, and I think that's when we can really begin to move the needle for diversity, equity and inclusion.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Yes, yes. Well, I'm Wendi McGowan-Ellis I will be your co-host with Marsha along this journey over the add infinitum number of podcasts that we're going to create. But as we close out Marsha, I'd love for you just share this poem by Patricia Lynn Reilly to close this out, because I love poems and quotes and I love having a solid ending to this, our very first podcast episode.

Marsha Clark:
Well, and I wanted to share this with you because it is something we share with every woman who goes through every program that I do. And so the title of this poem is, Imagine a Woman and as Wendi said, by Patricia Lynn Reilly. "Imagine a woman who believes it is right and good. She is a woman, a woman who honors her experience and tells her stories, who refuses to carry the sins of others within her body and life. Imagine a woman who trusts and respects herself, a woman who listens to her needs and desires, who meets them with tenderness and grace. Imagine a woman who acknowledges the past influence on the present, a woman who has walked through her past who has healed into the present.

Marsha Clark:
Imagine a woman who authors her own life. A woman who exerts, initiates and moves on her own behalf, who refuses to surrender except to her truest self and wisest voice. Imagine a woman who designs a personal spirituality to inform her daily life. Imagine a woman in love with her own body. A woman who believes her body is enough, just as it is, who celebrates its rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.

Marsha Clark:
Imagine a woman who honors the body of the goddess in her changing body. A woman who celebrates the accumulation of her years and her wisdom, who refuses to use her life energy disguising the changes in her body and in her life. Authenticity. Imagine a woman who values the women in her life, a woman who sits in circles of women, who is reminded of the truth about herself when she forgets. Imagine yourself as this woman." And you can tell why I love this.

Marsha Clark:
It is about you being you, you loving and respecting yourself. And sitting in the presence of other women. We know so many things about women in circles, the women at the well, the sewing circles, the quilting circles, the reading books circles, and I want us to be one big giant circle, and that's my wish and my hope for this.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis:
Well, thank you for that Marsha. And thank you, audience for joining us on this, Your Authentic Path to Powerful Leadership with Marsha Clark. We're looking forward to coming at you every week with a fresh new podcast, new content, new things to think about and talk about. And please feel free to download and subscribe to this podcast. Encourage your friends to do the same, and feel free to come and visit Marsha at Marsha Clark and associates.com for all of the tools and tips and trainings. You can also get an advanced copy of her book right now that will hit bookshelves in October of 2021. But connect with her on social media, feel free to send an email and we look forward to staying connected with you all.

Marsha Clark:
Yeah, I want to add my invitation to you. We continuously learn not just through research in books, but hearing from our participants, my clients, and now you and you are a part of the sisterhood as of today if you're listening to this podcast, and so do feel free to contact us and we're going to work and support you to the best of our abilities and thank you so much for being here. And you're going to know that the podcast is finished when you hear me say this at the end of every single one because it's so important. Here's to women supporting women.