EP: 185 Empower Yourself, Empower Your Team: The Power Of Knowing Yourself As A Leader With Christy Pretzinger

Brave Women at Work | Christy Pretzinger | Leadership Foundation

 

Since getting back from a season of heavy travel, I have been bombarded with to-dos and meetings. It’s like I’m being penalized for taking a vacation. Have you ever felt this way? I’m in a blizzard of activities this summer at work and with the kids, that I find I’m breathing a bit shallower and not paying attention to what I need to say yes and no to on my calendar.

 

So, if you follow me on social media, you know I have been thinking about time a lot lately and how I’m allocating it to various areas in my life. As we all know, time is our most precious resource. As an ambivert, or someone who is more naturally introverted but has trained themselves to be able to be extroverted for short stints, I’m craving more stillness to tap into myself. To read a few books this summer. To crank up my internal wisdom. All these activities make me a better person, wife, mother, friend, and of course, leader.

 

So, I gladly welcomed my conversation with guest, Christy Pretzinger. While Christy and I never met before the show, you would think we were old friends with the way the conversation just flowed. Christy reminded me that I do need to get still and know my values, remember my Enneagram, go to therapy if needed, and more so that I can lead as a kind, compassionate, and growth-oriented leader.

 

During our conversation, Christy and I chatted about:

 

  1. Values, the importance of them, and how to find our own
  2. The Enneagram, what it is, and what our types are
  3. Standing in our values in professional and personal situations
  4. How values are at play at work
  5. What EQ is and why it is important in leadership
  6. A few book resources, including Christy’s upcoming book, so listen in!

Listen to the podcast here

 

Empower Yourself, Empower Your Team: The Power Of Knowing Yourself As A Leader With Christy Pretzinger

Introduction

I’m glad you’re here. How are you doing out there? Since getting back from a season of heavy travel, it feels like I’ve been everywhere. I have been bombarded with to-dos and meetings, all the things. I know it sounds like, “You’re such a victim.” It feels like I’m being a little penalized for taking a vacation. Almost like people have been waiting for me and here I am and I’m trapped under something heavy.

I guess the question for you is, have you ever felt this way? Like you’re just bombarded on the other side of a big vacation or a break or things like that. I’m in a blizzard of activities this summer with work and with the kids and I feel, and this is just a reminder for me as much as for you, I’m breathing a bit shallower.

I’m going to be going back to meditation and spending some more time breathing and being mindful of my body this summer. I also have not been paying attention to what I need to say yes and no to on my calendar. I’m going to be doing a time audit if you saw me on social media, just to look at my calendar to see what needs to be there and what needs to go.

As I’ve been on social media, I’ve been thinking a lot about time and how I’m allocating it to various areas of my life. As I said, my kids, my work, this work with Brave Woman at Work, and my coaching clients. I knowingly have a lot of irons in the fire that bring me joy, but we all have the same amount of time during the day and how we spend it is up to us. We know that time is our most precious resource.

I am an ambivert. An ambivert is someone who is more naturally introverted but has learned or trained themselves to be able to flex introverted for short stints. I’ve been doing a lot of extra extraverted stuff like meetings and big presentations and travel and meeting a lot of new people. Now, I’m craving more stillness to tap into myself, to maybe read a few books that are not work-oriented this summer, like a beachy read, like a romance.

If anybody has any suggestions, please send me a DM. I want to do that. I want to crank up my internal wisdom and just get more still. All of these activities make me a better person. They make me a better wife, mother, friend, and of course, leader. We talk a lot about leadership here at Brave Woman at Work.

I gladly welcomed my conversation with my guest, Christy Pretzinger.  Christy and I never met before the show. You would think as you’re listening to this, that we were old friends with the way the conversation just flowed. I appreciate that in a guest conversation. Christy reminded me that I do need to get still and I need to tap into those values. I need to remember my Enneagram Type 1, even though it makes me cringe.

I need to go to therapy if needed and more so that I can lead as a kind, compassionate, and growth-oriented leader and not from an empty tank or empty cup. During our conversation, Christy and I chatted about values, their importance, and how to find out our own. Then we deviated a bit, not planned, into the Enneagram.

You’ll see a funny sense about that. What it is as a reminder, although you all know that I geek out on the Enneagram and what our types were. I’m a type one and I will let Christy, as you get into the show, explain her type. She knows she is not a type one. Standing in our values in professional and personal situations and how values are at play at work overall.

What EQ is, so emotional intelligence, and why it is important in leadership. We also shared quite a few book resources in this show. I’ve linked at least one, if not two of them to the show notes, but listen in because the resources were flying in this conversation. Of course, we touched on Christy’s upcoming book. Here is more about Christy.

Christy Pretzinger transformed the landscape of healthcare content creation and, along the way, transformed what it is like to work at a growing agency. As the owner and CEO of WG Content, Christy has established an industry-leading company that delivers superior content and strategy to healthcare brands nationwide. How did she do it? She intentionally focused on building the business based on kindness. Simple as that.

That approach has proven to be good for people in the bottom line. Over time, Christy discovered her true calling, to create a workplace that nurtures personal and professional growth and helps other leaders to do the same. She’s a popular guest speaker for events and podcasts, always ready to guide audiences on how to grow leaders and build inclusive workplaces. She’s been featured on numerous podcasts, including From Founder to CEO, Per Million Dollar Mystery, Lead Like A Woman, and Smart Business Revolution.

See for yourself how Christie is reinventing how businesses evaluate effective leadership, how employees can contribute to success, and how everyone can win if you start with kindness. As always, if the show, Brave Woman at Work has made an impact on you, please make sure to share it with a family member, a friend, a colleague, or a neighbor. It’s just really important if you can share the show.

Of course, your ratings and reviews help the show continue to grow. I always watch where we’re hovering between 33 and 36 countries every month. I’ve mentioned on prior shows that I would love to crack into sharing the show with 40 or more countries. It’s just a fun way to look at the stats and say, “You know what? This is getting into the hands of more women.” If you’ve left a rating and review, I sincerely thank you. It means the world to me and encourages me to keep going.

In between, I send out an annual podcast survey to see what you may want to hear about. If there are any topics in terms of specific situations you’re dealing with at work or anything at all that you want me to cover, of course, that’s a topic applicable to Brave Woman at Work, send me a message at Hello@BraveWomenAtWork.com and I will consider it.

Also, if you haven’t yet downloaded one or all of the freebies from my website, check them out at BraveWomenAtWork.com. I have created three just for you. The 24 Career and Leadership Affirmations for Women, Five Ways To Manage Your Imposter Syndrome, again, we all face imposter syndrome. It’s part of the human condition and most popular, Getting Paid 10 Negotiation Tips.

These are workbook-style guides. What I mean by workbook is there are places for you to take notes and to write and to doodle a journal and get something out of it. It’s not just something that I just threw together. I put some time and effort into these guides. Of course, you can complete them on your own time. I’m not expecting you to return them. They’re just for your benefit. The best thing, they are free. Go to BraveWomenAtWork.com to learn more and to download them. Let’s welcome Christy to the show.

 

Brave Women at Work | Christy Pretzinger | Leadership Foundation

 

Hello, Christy. Welcome to Brave Women at Work. How are you?

I’m doing great, Jen. Thank you so much for having me. I’m looking forward to our conversation. 

I am too. Why don’t we just jump in and tell us a little bit about your background story and how you’ve gotten to where you are? I know this is a big question. Tell me where you’d like to start. 

I can tell you that I have been building my current organization, WG Content, since about 2004. It’s been twenty years. Before that, I was a freelance writer when I left corporate America about 30 years ago. When I started building WG content, I told my accountant at the time that if I couldn’t build a business based on kindness, I would go back to being a freelancer. As anybody who’s building a business, you just put your head down, you’re wearing all the hats, and you’re doing all the things.

I didn’t think a whole lot about that comment until about five years ago, we were working with some consultants and one of the first things they did was they surveyed everybody at the company to find out what the core of our business, the thing without which we would not exist. Interestingly, it came back that it was our culture. I thought that was interesting.

I think a lot of people, a lot of leaders, business owners, or anybody who leads a team of anything, would not necessarily think of culture as being like revenue generating. In my experience, I’ve seen that it is. That’s been my focus, building an environment where people can thrive and kindness is one of our core values as well.

Career Focus And Niche

In this journey, I love that you have this niche on your website for healthcare content creation. What led you to that career? Can you give me a little bit of that backstory?

I always quote the Oracle of Oprah and say that luck is preparation meeting opportunity. Back when I first started building this, we weren’t in healthcare. I knew people in my community. I live in Cincinnati, Ohio, and I knew people in my community and they knew I’d been a writer. I had a large ad agency at the time, and they wanted a team of writers for a large project at the time.

I brought a team of writers, and it worked very well. That was good, and then fast forward about maybe nine months, and another former client came to me. She was a marketing director at a hospital group, and they were launching three websites simultaneously. Within a week, I had 35 writers on the project. I knew nothing about healthcare. I didn’t know anything about it.

Thank goodness we were moving so fast that even when I made mistakes, we could fix them quickly and learn on the fly. After we did that project, I told myself the necessary lie that it would be easy to bring teams of writers to hospitals. That was funny, in my hometown, nobody would talk to me. None of the hospitals would talk to me.

I ended up going to Columbus, which is nearby, and had a meeting with the Ohio State University and started working with them. That was in 2008. They are still a long-term client of ours. From there on, it was just me at the time, I started working with different hospital organizations nearby, like in Indiana and Cleveland and things like that.

As we added salespeople and employees and all these things, we now work all over the country doing content strategy and then content creation, but not content creation like social media. It’s content creation like physician bios or what to expect when you’re having a hip replacement or why our neuroscientists are the best in the world or that thing.

Identifying Values

That’s great. Who doesn’t need that kind of information? You found a good niche there. Good for you. One of the things when I went to your site and I loved it. It was very clear, I think it was in the About section that curiosity is one of your company’s core values. I thought that was great. It shows your marketing, branding, and your team’s prowess, but I thought it was cool. Maybe it’s because you guys have that writing foundation that as writers you’re curious. I was just wanting to ask you, and I’m excited that we’re doing this today, why is curiosity one of those core values? 

I talk a lot about the importance of values as a leader. One of the things that I firmly believe is they should not be created in isolation by the leader. I think that you need to have other people on that team. My leadership team, these people who have been with me, I think my longest employees, 13 years, and then 12 and then 10. It’s like they’ve been around a long time.

Back when we were coming up with these values and with our mission of building relationships one word at a time, we collectively came up with empowered, curious, kind, and fun. Kindness was very important to me, and I’ve always been interested in empowering people, women in particular. Together we came up with that, and curious, for all of us and me individually, encompasses much more than just curiosity when it comes to writing things. It’s curiosity about other people.

We use a tool called the Enneagram, for personality profiling. What I love about that system is that it looks at the motivation for people’s behavior as opposed to just their behavior. We do it inside the organization. Everyone is typed when they join the company, we do workshops on it and things so that people understand it.

You get to learn about somebody else’s motivation for their behavior as opposed to just what they’re doing. It’s like, “This person is taking a long time to answer my question because they process much more slowly than me.” The curiosity about why someone behaves the way they do then feeds the entire organization and the culture and of course, supports the mission of building relationships one word at a time.

This will make you laugh, but I geek out on the Enneagram. As soon as you started talking about it, I’ve had two, I think maybe two or three shows on this, everyone. As the library of shows continues to grow, if you are curious about this, go back into the way back machine in the library for brave women at work and listen to the other Enneagram shows. The other thing that came up, and this is why I’m going to laugh and hopefully you’ll laugh too, is I was like, “Christie and I are going to be friends.” Like kids on the playground, we’re going to be friends. We’re going to be friends.

We are going to be friends, I like that.

Christy, what is your Enneagram type? Can we just go there for just a second?

I am a hard seven.

You are a hard seven. I am a hard one. There you go. I am the reformer, everyone, perfectionist. The champion, very hard on myself. What is the seven just in case people are asking, “What are they talking about?”

With the Enneagram, as Jen just said, dig back and hear more about it, but to refresh you, there are nine types. That’s oversimplifying it because there’s more to it but I’m just going to stick with that. The one is sometimes the reformer and also sometimes called the judge. Seven is the epicure. A lot of entrepreneurs are sevens.

The problem is that we can be distracted easily by new ideas and new sparkly things. That’s the low side. As a seven, I’m a very fast processor because I’m what’s called a head type. There are head, heart, and body types. Head types process quickly because we’re all in our heads. The body types tend to process more slowly. Jen is one and would process more slowly than I do, which is a wonderful thing to be aware of because what I have learned over time using the Enneagram is how to do what I call to loosening the strictures of type.

The things about me that I’ve learned can be very off-putting, especially as a leader, I’m a grownup, and I can moderate my behavior. I have some body types, which are the eight and nine ones. I have those on my leadership team. I’m very careful when I ask a question or when I’m talking to slow down and then stop talking and allow them to process and respond. It’s been a game-changer. It changed the way I parent, it changed my relationships, it changed how I lead. I love the Enneagram.

That’s so cool. This is why we’re going to become friends. I’ve heard the values of your company, and I do talk a lot about values at my company here at Brave Women at Work. I just put out a reminder. I try to do it once or twice a year, Christy. It is, “Everyone, if you haven’t done your values or your values review, it’s time.” I always tell people about that. For you, why is value so important as a leader or in leadership?

One of the things that I talk about with values is that, first of all, they should not be created in a vacuum. You want to get buy-in from your team, but also your values should remain constant over time. The expression of the values can change, but your values really shouldn’t change because you want your team to know that there is a constant. It’s not a flavor of the week where I’m like, “We’re not empowered anymore. Now we’re going to go do this.”

One of the things in my organization is that I always say that our values are a thread that goes throughout our organization and upon which all decisions can hang. This is for all the employees, they are empowered to make decisions and they also are very aware of our values because they roll off the tongue. Empowered, curious, kind, and fun.

When they’re making decisions, whether it’s working with a client or working with one of our associates, the freelancers that we have, over a hundred of those that we work very closely with, or with another coworker that you think about, “How can I make this decision in line with our values?” That has proven to be key and successful in building the environment that we have.

That is so great. Very cool. Let’s say a woman has not ever looked at her values or a team hasn’t looked at their values and said, don’t do it in a vacuum. What tools would you recommend to people and or teams if they want to do this work?

Back to what I was saying about curiosity, I think that you have to make sure that you’re willing. We talked a little bit about this earlier, too. You have to be willing to be vulnerable because you might have different ideas than somebody else in the room. We always make sure that it’s a safe place. No judgment of people coming up with what they think is important to them.

It’s like anything else, Jen, when you look at your own life, what is important to you? For me, as I said, twenty years ago, kindness was important. It was interesting. Someone asked me once on a podcast why kindness was important to me, and they said, “Did you work for unkind people?” No one had ever asked me that. I thought that was very interesting. When I thought about it, I said, “No, actually, the people themselves were not unkind, but the structures within which they worked did not foster kindness.”

When I think about a team or even an individual, when you’re building your values, think about what kind of person you want to be. Maybe it’s legacy. My son, he’s 23. I tell him and other young people that I talked to, “What do you want your life to look like when you’re 40?” You need to think about that when you’re in your 20s.

If you don’t, somebody else will, and it will not be for your benefit. That’s true whether you’re 30s, 40s, or even 50s, saying, “What do you want your life to look like 20 years from now? What do you want people to say about you when the whole thing is done? What impact do you hope to have on your piece of the world? From that, your values can fall out of that.

Brave Women at Work | Christy Pretzinger | Leadership Foundation
Leadership Foundation: What impact do you hope to have on your piece of the world? From that, you can identify your values.

 

What you just said to me and said to everyone who’s reading just chilled me to the core. One thing I want to underscore because I think it’s so important and you have so much wisdom. Have you ever thought about teaching a college course because you really should? I work with and represent the high-achieving woman, right? The gold star chaser, I call all of us. The perfectionist. I’m a type one, that’s my deal.

If we aren’t taught in college or when we are in our 20s, we just get in the boat of life and it flows and it goes, and we’re just like wanting to get praised, get promoted, and all that stuff. Now, as an example, I’m way deep on the latter end of my forties. I didn’t understand that it wasn’t going to be to my benefit. I didn’t know.

That’s why I do the work I do, so that we can eventually have a voice, understand what’s important to us, and hold our boundaries, which sounds like, “No kidding, Jen.“ Many of us don’t have that and like you said, it isn’t to our benefit. Then we wake up one day and we’ll ask, “Why am I in burnout?” or, “Why am I not in alignment anymore? I don’t understand.” I think what you said is so important.

I wish that somebody had told me that when I was in my 20s. I always tell my son, “You’re laying the track for the rest of your life, and if you do it right, you know it will serve you well.” Again, the whole thing where I got that question about what you want your life to look like when you’re 40 is from a book called How Will You Measure Your Life?

You're laying the track for the rest of your life. If you do it right, it will serve you well. Share on X

I cannot recommend highly enough. I think the author’s last name is Christensen, and unfortunately, passed away, but he was a professor at Harvard Business School and he went to Harvard Business School. To your point, you’re working with these high-achieving women, and he was seeing all of these high-achieving students. In his own experience, by the time he went to his 20-year class reunion, they were all high-achieving people graduating from Harvard Business School.

The world is their oyster. Many of them were miserable. They were alcoholics. They were divorced. They hated their jobs because they got locked in, and then they’re like, “Great. Now I’ve got the kids in private school.” “I’ve got a couple of houses and fancy cars.” “I can’t get out of this now.” He wrote this book for them. It’s truly one of the best books I’ve ever read. I read a lot. It’s a good book. I highly recommend it.

What is it called one more time? I’m going to put it on the show notes.

How will you measure your life? The author is Christiansen.

Clayton Christiansen.

There you go. That’s it.

It’s got a lot of positive reviews on Amazon. Not that Amazon is the only Oracle for what is good. I’ll put it on the show. Thank you. It will be on my nightstand.

You’ll enjoy it.

Yes, I will. That’s important. With standing in our values, how do you think that that also informs what we say yes to and how we perform as individual contributors and people leaders? How we are running businesses? How do we use that as a tool once we know those values moving forward?

What you’re saying, Jen, just made me think about one of your most recent podcasts talking about boundaries. One of the things I think, particularly as a woman, I can’t remember who this was, it might have been Oprah again, who said, “No, is a complete sentence.” You don’t need to say, “I’m sorry” or anything else.

I think that part of your value has to be in valuing yourself. I know it took me many years and tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of therapy to finally be okay with who I am.  I’m always willing to share that. I always joke with people, saying, “I spent tens of thousands of dollars on therapy. Would you like to leverage it with me? I’ll tell you what my therapy taught me.”

That is so funny. I made this huge investment so I could share it with other people.

I’m not the one who knows it, but she sure taught me a lot. The world that young women in particular live in today, it’s terrifying. I was talking to my stepdaughter. She’s in medical school. She’s a beautiful young woman and there’s like ten seriously beautiful young women all in med school together. They’re smart and beautiful and they’re all freaking out because it’s hard.

Out of those ten women, I think she said seven of them have disordered eating. That is just so sad to me that the world that women live in is so focused on what we look like. Number one, which I think is a tremendous distraction from what we can do in the world. It’s the way it is. I think the conversation about women’s bodies should just be off the table.

Just not even allowed, it should be considered forbidden but it won’t be. For some reason, I think that minimizes who we are in the world and turns us into something much less than the human beings that we are. The younger you are when you can get a hold of that and do the work on yourself. Self-awareness cannot be overestimated in its importance in anything, whether it’s in work, life, or relationships.

Get to that point where you accept yourself and not only that, but you think there are some good things about you and then that helps you stand in your values and stand in your worth. Work and relationships and everything else. It doesn’t mean being aggressive, strident, or anything like that. It’s just knowing who you are, what you want, and what you stand for.

Here’s my turn. I’m going to share a book I read recently that’s popular right now. Jamie Kern Lima, I think is her name. She is the founder of IT Cosmetics but then she sold it off, I think to L’Oreal. She wrote this book called Worthy. The reason that I’m saying that is you just touched on the idea of worth. That personal foundational worth and her thought, which makes sense to me, is that I’ll do a lot of work with women on teaching confidence.

She also said that you’ve got to have worth as the foundation. She wrote this in her book because if you don’t have internal worth, confidence is an external factor. If you don’t have the belief that you’re worthy, you can have all the tools and the tool belt that you want, but it’s always going to be fleeting. We got to have internal, it’s got to be inside out. It’s got to be the body, mind, soul, spirit, and everything. Otherwise, you will be flattened again by the world if you allow it.

That makes me think of something that, I adore Bernie Brown does everybody else in the world. She said, “I will not negotiate my worth with you. That has been settled a long time ago. I will not negotiate it with you. I’ll negotiate a contract with you. I’ll negotiate other things with you, but I will not negotiate my worth.” That just almost brings tears to my eyes because I wish I had known that when I was in my 20s and 30s.

No, I didn’t know that either.

I think a lot of women don’t. For some reason, men seem to have an innate sense of self-worth. It doesn’t mean that they don’t doubt themselves and have issues. Of course, they do. It’s not the same. I don’t think it’s anybody’s plan. It’s not some big conspiracy. It’s just the way that we are in the world. It makes it that much harder for women to stand in their worth, and to feel that value. It doesn’t even have to do with your performance. It doesn’t have to do with what you look like. It sure as hell has nothing to do with how much you weigh. None of those external things have anything to do with your innate worth as a human being and a right to that worth in this world.

Building Self-Worth

Let’s go there for a minute. Not that either of us are experts, but let’s just like, wrestle with this a little. What do you think women can do to start cementing? Maybe the things you’ve learned on how you’ve built your worth, what are some steps that we can all take to start working on worth? 

I know not everybody can afford it or has access to it, but I’m telling you what, I do think that everybody needs a little bit of therapy. Everybody has issues. You don’t get into your 20s and certainly later in life without having some things. Having an impartial person. My therapist said to me, “I know you better than anyone.” She could see the things that I did, from a different perspective than I could. If you have access to that, I highly recommend it. It’s the hardest work I ever done and the best work I ever did. I wouldn’t have anything in my life that I have now if I hadn’t done that work.

I also think that a long time ago, I had a coach tell me that my business was me and I was my business, and the business wouldn’t grow until I did. I thought that was very interesting. What I did at that time was I started a daily meditation practice. Now, full caveat, I don’t stick with it all the time. It’s the best thing in the world and why I don’t do it daily is beyond me.

You’re human, that happens.

It was really powerful. I started it every morning I would get up and I would meditate for 10 to 15 minutes. Then I started reading books that were like personal development books with an eye towards self-awareness. They were almost more spiritual, The Untethered Soul. I also read some Deepak Chopra. I’m curious about things like that.

For me, it was trying to understand my place in the world. “What am I doing here? What’s happening?” “What’s important to me in my life?” I’m wrestling with that, digging into it, reading the Brene Brown books, and just being curious about why I do what I do. It’s probably been fifteen years ago that I discovered the Enneagram and started digging into that. By the way, anybody who does the Enneagram, if you don’t read about your type and have a little part of you that goes, “Ick.” Then it’s not your type.

That’s so good. When I read about my type one, I was like, “Ew, I don’t want to be type one.” Then I felt I knew it was right.

Yes, exactly. I was like, “Ew.” I move into delusion easily. I honestly am hard-wired not to see bad things. I’ll say something about something, and my partner will be like, “This is a silly thing,” but I was getting my COVID vaccine booster and also the flu vaccine the same day. The vaccine knocks me out, it just does. I told my partner I was doing this, and he looked at me and I said, “It’ll be fine.” He said, “But will it? I’m not sure that it will.”

I literally can’t remember that it makes me sick. That’s an “Ew” because that’s not realistic. it can be very dismissive of other people, like my son, who’s a six on the Enneagram, which means that’s called the Loyal Questioner. He is always waiting for the next shoe to drop and he wants very close boundaries. I’m always looking for an exit strategy and he wants to know what’s happening next.

If I don’t allow him to have his very real fears about whatever it is, if I just dismiss it because that’s who I am, that’s not fair to him, that’s rude. It’s invalidating his experience as a person. I think I’m digressing a little bit, but that self-awareness stuff, realizing that I have some characteristics and behaviors that might be off-putting for people. Maybe I should moderate that.

Let’s spin back around. That is helpful on the whole worth. You said, just so I’m clear, getting the therapy. Doing the work. Doing the actual reading, deep dives that mindset stuff. Which we all accumulate. I felt guilty all the time, I felt like, “It was just me.” Now that I’m diving more into this world. I coach women and I know you coach as well with some of the other work that you do. It’s just part of human nature. I thought it was just me. It’s not just me. No, everybody’s got this gunk.

Everybody does. I do think Worth is a big topic and it’s a struggle and I don’t think it ever ends. I think that it’s a constant reaffirming of your worth because, in the world in which we live, it’s very easy to be undercut. I was just reading something about how our brains are hardwired to protect us. This isn’t just me either.

Everybody remembers a stupid comment that they made a month ago and is berating themselves about it, but nobody else even remembers that. That’s the way our brains work. It’s meant to protect us. What this little thing was saying was that this is probably a good time to call a friend and be the one telling them how great they are because you’ll feel better after doing that too. It helps to do those kinds of things.

Emotional Intelligence

This is foundational to worth, the idea of EI and EQ, the whole soft skills, emotional intelligence, and things like that. How do you think that plays into our worth and leadership? I always talk about leadership. How do those two concepts come into play here too?

EQ and what was the other one that you said?

EI, emotional intelligence, and emotional quotient.

I think interchangeably. EQ seems to work better when you’re using the initials, but emotional intelligence makes more sense when you’re speaking about it and using the word. I think it goes back to the self-awareness piece there too. Tell me your question again, because I feel like I lost track when we got to that.

I just wanted to see how emotional intelligence is part of the journey of leadership. Also, I think it plays a little bit into worth because we have to have foundational trust in ourselves to hone EQ. I wanted to talk about that as well.

This was probably twenty years ago, my dad who’s no longer living, but we were up at a family cemetery plot and there are all these headstones. A lot of them just had names like Herman and then two dates. I don’t even know who any of these people were. I said to my dad, “I don’t know anything about these people.” He stopped, looked at them, and said, “I know, it’s like you want to say they mattered.”

That stuck with me. What I learned by thinking about that, and then I’m writing a book about building a culture and also just building a culture in my organization, is that every single one of us needs to know that we matter. That the special magic that we bring would be missed if we were not there. People are not replaceable, positions are in companies, but people aren’t.

The special magic that you bring into this would be missed if you were not here. It’s the “Jenness” of you. For me and my way of building my self-worth, part of it is building the worth of others. I have an organization of all women, and I want every single one of them to know that they matter. That the things that they care about matter, that their families matter to me but I want them to have a life-work balance and I intentionally put it in that order.

They are treated as the adults that they are, where they can manage their own time, and behaviors, get work done, and do meaningful work. That I notice it and I appreciate it. I tell them that. I told them that I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.” Which is coming on podcasts like this, working on a book, and a couple of other things I’m working on, “if I didn’t have a group of people who were so good at what they do.”

That isn’t just writing, there’s so much more to it. It’s the teamwork that they have. The respect that these people show for one another, the way that they show up for each other and help each other if somebody has something going on, somebody else will step in and will be happy to help. All of that is the fabric of a human. I think it’s also been referred to as the helper’s high, but when you compliment someone else and you reaffirm their worth, it makes you feel better about yourself.

Brave Women at Work | Christy Pretzinger | Leadership Foundation
Leadership Foundation: Complimenting someone and reaffirming their worth can make you feel better about yourself.

 

To do that, you’ve got to have that EQ, because, in your team, you probably key in as a leader to whatever they need. For example, they need more time or I need to give them more autonomy or whatever. If you were just marching through to get your stuff done and get your agenda done, it’s like more of a manager. You can’t tap in.

I was at a conference one time, and there was a male speaker, he was talking about leading a military operation. That’s the antithesis of everything that I am. This goes back to the EQ or emotional intelligence question, that it is much easier as a leader to be a general, to say, “I don’t care what you think, here’s what I want you to do, go do it and let me know when you’re done.” That’s it.

That’s so much easier than saying, “What direction do you think would be good here?” “What are your thoughts about this situation?” Then inviting the conversation and learning what other people’s perspectives might be that hopefully will be very different than your own. I think that that is part of emotional intelligence. I also think that it’s interesting to think about as a leader, there’s a difference between individual emotional intelligence and team emotional intelligence.

There’s an excellent article in Harvard Business Review about this, and it’s old. It’s actually from 2003. It talks about this. It’s excellent. It’s got a lot of rabbit holes that you can go down, a lot of links that take you to different places about this and the importance of understanding. First of all, you have to have your self-awareness to have emotional intelligence, but then also have that spidey sense about a team and notice what’s happening.

You have to have self-awareness to have emotional intelligence. Share on X

I’ll give you an example that they use in the article, I’ve never forgotten this. Let’s say that you’re having a meeting and it’s an in-person meeting. One of the people has a bunch of kids and is far away from where this meeting is being held. That person might be a little bit late coming into the meeting and you can see other people can get a little judgy about things like that because we like our meetings to start on time.

Instead of being judgy about that, the leader of that team or the leader of that meeting can say, “You know what? Joe, I know this was challenging for you to get here today, but we’re appreciative that you’re here because we value your insight and what you’re going to bring to this meeting. Thank you for getting here.” It changes everything. That’s just a really simple example from that article.

I think about that a lot. Also another thing about Team EQ, again, that you have to have your emotional intelligence to do this, but frequently we’ll start meetings with a one or two-word opener, which gives you the leader of the meeting or the leader of the team, whatever it happens to be. Also everybody else, you get a read on what’s happening with everybody in the room.

If someone says, “I’m feeling overwhelmed.” That’s good to know. Somebody else might say, “I feel great. I just accomplished something.” You have a general idea of taking the emotional temperature of the room, whether it’s virtual or in person, and seeing what people might be bringing to the table there. Again, that requires your emotional intelligence and then the leadership skill of helping to build that team EQ.

That’s cool. I could see in a virtual meeting, a word cloud forming. “Give us your one word. How is everyone feeling?” Then the words pop up or whatever. If you can see it’s in one direction, you know where to go. Very cool. I like that idea a lot. If you have a chance, send me the article so we can link them up on the show notes or even the name, and I can go and do some research on my own.

I can find it in two seconds because I referenced it many times. It’ll come right up.

New Book

Sounds good. I want to take some time to talk about your new book. Can you give us some spoilers? What is it about? What’s it going to be called? When’s it coming? All the good stuff. 

It’s called Your Cultural Balance Sheet, Keys To Creating An Environment Where People Can Thrive. It’s funny how this came up because I have a lot of friends who are entrepreneurs, and several of them have had successful exits, meaning they’ve either sold to a private equity or they’ve just sold to a larger organization.

We talk about things like that all the time. We were having dinner one night and we were talking about this stuff. I said, “Of course, I look at my balance sheet. It’s important to look at that. It’s a moment in time and numbers are important when you run a business, but it’s almost like I look at my business through the lens of a cultural balance sheet.” “I think that might be a book.” That was a few years ago. It took me a while to finally get my act together to do it.

I started thinking about it. It’s an easy analogy because you’ve got assets, liabilities, and equity. It gives a framework for discussing your culture. Of course, going way beyond ping-pong tables and beer kegs, and that is not culture. Someone was telling me once at their hospital that the CEO goes around with a coffee cart. They’re like, “That’s for you.” Not for the employees. They don’t care. That’s not building a culture here.

Understanding back what I was speaking about earlier, understanding that everyone needs to know that they matter and hardwiring that into the way you structure your organization, whether that’s a team that you lead if you’re in a larger organization, whether it’s your own business or whatever that happens to be. What I always say is what we do is we engineer the structure so that we can allow for the weaving

of the tapestry, which is the culture.

There are special ways that we do that, the way that we make sure we have cross-functional teams. We have all sorts of cultural groups. We’re not a huge organization, we’re 33 people but there’s a book club, and then there’s a moment makers organization that allows people to recognize clients, associates, or coworkers for special things, and it doesn’t have to be a lot of money.

It can be just a little thing that you make a moment out of something for someone. We have a kindness counts team, all these different kinds of things that we make sure are there to allow people to get to know each other on a whole person level and not, “This is what you do and this is what I do and never the train shall meet.”

Anyway, there’s a whole lot in there that we talk about. I talk about all the different assets, obviously, your people. I talk about liabilities and the difference between a cultural balance sheet from a financial balance sheet is that liabilities on a cultural balance sheet with attention and intention can be turned into assets. For example, back to your boundary conversation, Jen. Talking about the importance of boundaries, if there’s a lack of boundaries, that can be a liability.

What happens when you have a lack of boundaries is, it leads to resentment, which leads to passive-aggressive behavior. Meaning, that when someone asks you to do something, you’ll say, “No, it’s fine, I’ll do it.” But it’s the furthest thing from fine and then that leads to burnout. We don’t want that in our organizations. I’ve always made sure that I teach employees with a client, when you first start working with a client, set the boundaries then. Good fences make good neighbors.

A lack of boundaries can be a liability, leading to resentment which can then manifest as passive-aggressive behavior, ultimately resulting in burnout. Share on X

You do it right at the beginning and say, “This is how I’d like to work with you. If you’re on the West Coast and I’m on the East Coast, I will work to accommodate you on West Coast time, but my workday does end at six o’clock unless it is an emergency or on a deadline. I’d like to have permission from you to respect that.” You set that up from the beginning and that goes right into your self-worth too. Valuing your boundaries is important.

Yes, I think that all of this is important. I love that you’re calling it that cultural balance sheet. Just out of curiosity, I don’t want to give away the spoilers because I haven’t read the book yet. In terms of, you said that you can’t replace the people or the magic of the individual. Everyone brings that certain something, that special unique fingerprint.

Are there any warning signs if all of a sudden, this makes me think of the “Quiet quit.” That would be that term where people are just doing enough or they’re not bringing their ideas. They’re not bringing their whole selves anymore. Are there any warning signs that leaders need to be aware of in the culture?

I think that’s one of the reasons too. The one or two words open at a meeting because it helps you keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening for people. If you keep hearing the same person say that they’re overwhelmed, that’s your cue to do something about that. We don’t do performance improvement plans in my organization. I think it’s counterproductive. That doesn’t mean that people don’t sometimes have issues.

If a leader notices that someone is maybe missing deadlines or showing up late to meetings, or just that their behavior has changed noticeably, what we do is we have the leader sit down with the person and say, “I’ve noticed something here.” “Something’s not the same.” “Something is different here.” “Would you like to tell me what’s happening to you?” That invites the employee to say, “My mom is sick and I am the one who has to take care of all the doctor appointments.” or, “I’m going through a divorce and this is hard for me right now.” What I learned again from Brene Brown and this goes with our organization, we do have a work-life balance.

Saying to that person, “It is right that you prioritize your life, whether it’s a divorce or a sick parent or whatever it happens to be but what is not okay is that you don’t tell us about it. You don’t have to go into detail, but you have to tell us that the wheels are coming off so that we can step in and help.” That’s what we want to do. We want to step in and help. There are a lot of people here willing to help. We just need to know, “I got a lot going on right now and I might need a little help.” Say, “What does support from me look like?”

Yes, because what it does is it keeps the communication going. This is tangentially related, but I have a preteen. As a parent of a preteen daughter, “Let’s just keep the communication going.” It’s the same thing. You’re just relating it to the workplace.

Yes, absolutely. We’re all human and people have things going on in their lives, you know? We’re lucky that we’re virtual, we have unlimited time off. We’ve got all the things. We don’t have people taking advantage of that. What I have seen in my experience with that is because I always say, “I cast the vision for the culture but all of them live it out every day.” and they protect it.

They like this culture, they know it’s a good gig. I’ve had people say, “I’ve never worked anywhere where the work and the things that I do, the way that things are done in this organization makes me a better person.” They like that. People like learning about themselves, becoming more self-aware, feeling a sense of worth, and being able to share that with other people.

People like learning about themselves, becoming more self-aware, feeling a sense of worth, and being able to share that with other people. Share on X

We build in all of these kudos things. We have this thing called the Woohoo Cup. It used to be an actual thing, but we’re virtual. That got challenging. We focus on one value at every one of our monthly team meetings. We say, “This month’s value is Curious.” We ask everyone who wants to nominate a coworker who has demonstrated curiosity. Then we pull a name out of the hat and that person gets a gift card to Amazon. I think it is something like that. 

That’s fun.

It allows you to recognize your coworkers. I’m telling you, people go crazy with that. There’s a lot. We do it in every one of our every-other-week newsletters. We have the opportunity for people to give each other kudos. It is a very long list of people giving kudos to their coworkers. That is just nice. It’s kind and it makes people feel good and warms your heart. I think that’s a lovely thing.

That’s so good. Thank you very much for sharing all that. That’s cool. You didn’t mention one thing. When is the book set? I’m not holding you to this, but when is the new book going to be coming out around?

I’m thinking that it’s going to be in November 2024. I’m not sure if it’s going to be mid to late November. I’m not exactly sure yet because we’re still working on it. One of my employees is a writer with the company. She’s a brilliant writer. She just wrote her book, and she is also my coauthor on this. She’s helping me with it. It’s moving right along. I worked in publishing. That was my last job. I have an editor who’s a book editor. We’re doing it all ourselves. Then we had a book designer who we also worked with. We’re all cobbling it together ourselves. 

Action Advice For Women

That’s amazing. Let us know. We’ll put it out there in the world. We want to help. What are one to two ways that you believe women can be braver at work today?

That’s a challenging one, isn’t it? Much of that depends on the environment in which you work. In some places, you can be brave, in some places you have to keep your head down, and it just depends. I think it all goes back to that question of worth, Jen, if you stand in your worth, it emboldens you to be brave. To communicate that effectively and efficiently, it holds your position of what you want.

That’s another one, knowing what you want. How will you measure your life? By knowing what you want and then being able to craft your career to get you to that. Whatever that is for you and keep your eye on that. That’s one thing, I think that is important. The other thing, and this is more about self-worth again, but let’s say that you’re leaning forward, you want to be promoted, and you apply, and you don’t get a position.

I think making sure that you don’t look at that as a reflection of you. And you say, this isn’t the end of the line for me. That was just one position and somebody else got that one. Maybe I’ll get the next one or whatever that happens to be. Not being afraid. I guess you’re saying be brave but be brave enough to put yourself out there. “I’d like to do this.” Or, “I’d like to try that.” Or, “Have we thought about this? Maybe I could do something along these lines.” Being creative about what you want and being clear about what you want.

I love all that. On this Friday, I’m putting out a post, a quote from a museum. I recently was on a trip in Europe and I saw this quote by Salvador Dali, it was, it’s part of a quote, but I have it right in front of me on my desk all the time, because as a type one, just everyone coming full circle on the Enneagram. I have to learn that mistakes are okay. That failure is part of the game. Failure is something good because you’re trying. That means you’re learning and you’re growing.

The quote is, “Mistakes are almost always of a sacred nature. Never try to correct them.” I have it on my desk. If I try something in my business and I fall on my face, “No, that’s all good.” Or if I write something and it doesn’t get picked up or whatever, “It’s all okay.” I love that because if we stay quiet, we stay small, we don’t make the call, we don’t ask, and all this stuff, we can’t be braver at work. We’ve got to go out there and be bold. 

The thing that just reminded me of another book that I really like by John Maxwell called Failing Forward. What I always say is mistakes are fine, just don’t keep making the same one over and over again. Learn from it. Whenever you do, if you’re not failing, then you’re not trying, you’re not innovating. You got to have some goofs. That’s just part of life.

If you're not failing, then you're not trying and innovating. Share on X

Exactly, thank you for sharing that wisdom. We know about the book. Why don’t you share the title once more and tell us how women can find you and your work online?

The book is called Your Cultural Balance Sheet and the subtitle is Keys to Creating an Environment Where People Can Thrive. It will be coming out in November 2024. The easiest way is I own the website for Your Cultural Balance Sheet , but there’s nothing on it yet. There will be soon. You can also just go to WG content on WGContent.com. You can find me there and you can follow all of our social things there. There’s also a page about me there that you can find, and anybody can reach out to me via that. I think my phone number is on there too.

You’re also on LinkedIn too, correct?

I am on LinkedIn, yes.

Christy, I did have a blast. It was super fun. I hope we can stay connected.

Yes, it was great. You’re not that far away. Chicago’s not that far away.

A couple of things. Number one, I am having a conference next year. I have a business partner who was in Chicago and now she’s in Lake Las Vegas, but she runs a conference company and she has a boutique editing firm and publishing firm. She runs that arm. I run the marketing and the coaching side of the arm. We’re going to be partnering to do a conference for women in Chicago next year. If you are interested, let me know.

Yes, I would love to come. I do a signature talk on your cultural balance sheet. I’d be happy to do that. I just think people need to hear about this. The world that we live in right now is hungry for feminine energy, not gender, feminine energy where we connect and we’re empathetic, open, and those human things that somebody decided are soft skills and they’re hard ones. Those are the things that we as people need right now. That’s what I talk about.

What I’m going to do next is I’m going to connect you to her. Her name is Hope Mueller. You’ll get an email, and I’ll connect you. We both have corporate jobs. It takes her a few days, it’s not that we’re not interested in talking with you. It’s just that we’re trapped under meetings or something heavy. She will connect with you.

What we’re doing is we’re just looking for people who may want to attend. We’re also looking for speakers, we’re looking, all of this stuff. The theme of the conference is going to be, “Thrive in 25” because why not? We’re shooting for 75 to a hundred women from all over the country to attend this. We think we can do that. I think it’d be great to have you, and since the Cincinnati area to that area is not that bad of a drive.

No, it’s no big deal at all. It has been a while since I’ve been to Chicago. That’d be fun.

That would be great to meet you in person. I will get you all connected. It’s going to be around June 2025. It’s going to be a ways away, just bear with us as we put it together. She’s going to do a lot of the planning. I’m not that person. I can’t do that. I can market it. We’ll stay connected. It was such a joy to get to know you. You’re lovely and I’m excited for you and your book.

It was a pleasure to talk to you. I love meeting like-minded people and I love the work that you’re doing. Thank you for your podcast and thank you for having me on.

Of course, we’ll stay in touch. Talk to you very soon. Thanks.

Conclusion

Thank you so much. Take care.

Bye.

That does it in my discussion with Christy. I hope you found our conversation both valuable and inspiring. Here are a few questions before next time. What is your Enneagram type? If you have followed me for a while or if this is new to you, we went through what Enneagram is during my conversation with Christy.

If you don’t know where to start and you’re now getting curious, check out, it’s called Truity.com. I am not endorsed by this. It’s just a free resource. It’s a free assessment and it’s fun to know this information. It gives you a deeper look inside yourself. As Christy said, and I completely agree that if you are not cringy, on the other side are going, “Yes, that’s me,” then it’s probably you may want to look at it again.

There’s a ton of books on this. If you have any questions on that, just send me a DM, and I can give you some great resources or go back into the archives, the library of Brave Woman at Work. I have at least two Enneagram episodes out there. Secondly, and we’ve been hammering this a lot lately. What are your values?

If you have listened before, you know that I wish that Brene Brown was my fairy godmother. Maybe she is, I don’t know, but you can check out her values exercise online. Just Google “Brene Brown values exercise,” and it’ll pop right up. Then a question for you. How are you pouring into yourself as a leader? Remember, to be a great leader, you need to know yourself.

I think a huge difference between being a manager and a leader is that mindset is there. You understand who you are and how you tech. Make sure to get the tools you need to do just that. As a reminder, please rate, review, and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. The show is also available on any other podcast platform you enjoy. Until next time, show up, know yourself, and be brave.

 

Important Links

 

ABOUT cHRISTY pRETZINGER

Brave Women at Work | Christy Pretzinger | Leadership FoundationChristy Pretzinger transformed the landscape of healthcare content creation and, along the way, transformed what it’s like to work at a growing agency. As the owner and CEO of WG Content, Christy has established an industry-leading company that delivers superior content and strategy to healthcare brands nationwide. How did she do it? She intentionally focused on building the business based on kindness. And that approach has proven to be good for people and the bottom line.

Over time, Christy discovered her true calling: to create a workplace that nurtures personal and professional growth — and help other leaders do the same. She’s a popular guest speaker for events and podcasts, always ready to guide audiences on how to grow leaders and build inclusive workplaces. She’s been featured on numerous podcasts, including From Founder to CEO, Her Million Dollar My$tery, Lead Like a Woman and Smart Business Revolution. See for yourself how Christy is reinventing how businesses evaluate effective leadership, how employees can contribute to success and how everyone can win — if you start with kindness.

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