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ET-043: A conversation with Bernadette Boas

ET-043: A conversation with Bernadette Boas

with your host Wayne Brown on April 18, 2023

with your host Wayne Brown on April 18, 2023

Episode notes: A conversation with Bernadette Boas

Hello and welcome to Episode 43. I’m Wayne Brown and we are delighted that you could join us on The ET Project. This podcast is for Executive Talent all over the world who we’re affectionately referred to as Team ET.

Today, we’re visiting Atlanta, Georgia to chat with our guest, Ms. Bernadette Boas, and if we’re lucky, we may be joined by her four-legged best friend, Coco.

Bernadette Boas is a renowned ball of fire in everything she does, from her corporate executive coaching, training and speaking, to playing pickleball and loving on tons of dogs that she cares for in her spare time.

With Ball Of Fire coaching, Bernadette brings her 25 years corporate executive savviness with her entrepreneurial spirit to transform corporate executives, teams and businesses around the globe into the powerhouse leaders they’re meant to be. With what she’s called her pink slip to freedom, Bernadette authored her first in a series of books, Shedding the corporate Bitch: Shifting from Bitch to Rich in Life and Business.

Here is an extract from our conversation as we start to get into it…

“…And so I started watching the way they behaved, and how they behave was they used their money and their power and position to pretty much get what they want through very abrasive, very demeaning, very hurt type of behavior. Your typical bully, the typical nasty customer that walks in and expects that everybody’s gonna drop what they’re doing to respond to her, but guess what they do. And so I just started to kinda take on that persona expecting it was gonna be temporary. Expecting it was just gonna be what I needed to do in order to obtain the salary and the position in the corner office and everything that I wanted. And yet, as we know, masks can become permanent and those behaviors can start to bleed into your every being, part of your every being..…”

So, team ET, are you ready for some tough love from a lady that pulls no punches about the challenges of corporate life and what it can do to you? If so, then get ready for this episode titled, Transforming A Corporate Villain Into A Corporate Solution.

Today’s Guest: MS. BERNADETTE BOAS

Bernadette is the founder and CEO of two aspiring Atlanta, Georgia-based companies; The Boas Group, which is a business management and consulting practice, and Ball of Fire Inc., a media, communications and publishing firm, and home to the mega brand, Shedding the Bitch, which is focused on the health, wealth and prosperity of individuals and organizations.

Prior to starting her companies in 2008, Bernadette spent over 25 years driving change and delivering significant revenue and profitability improvements to clients such as Walmart, Target Corporation, Office Depot, Sears, American Retail Group and many others, in both consulting and in management leadership positions. She’s an active board of advisors member for Bring On The Music organization, an active member of CEO Space International and Atlanta Women in Business.

Final words from Bernadette:

“Well, I would kind of just touch on what I brushed over around the 80% mindset, 20% skill set. A deep resume of jobs and college degrees and awards and accolades, that’s fabulous. I don’t wanna dismiss that in any way, shape or form.

However, if you’re not working on your mindset, if you’re not working on becoming confident and bold and empowered and willing to take risks and feeling self-worth and value, then you’re never gonna leverage… You’re never gonna really get advantage out of all of that skill set that you have. And so I learned through my own journey that it does…

I’m not kidding, it does take 80% of my time and energy to ensure that I stay really where I wanna be and how I wanna be, from a mindset and a heart perspective. And so I would just really strongly suggest to anyone to really find those tools, those resources that you can use to work on your mindset, work on learning who you are, who you truly want to be, what the gap is, and fill in that gap. And so, that’s what I would leave anybody with.”

Transcript:

[music]

0:00:08.0 Wayne Brown: Hello. I’m your host, Wayne Brown. And welcome to The ET Project. We’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world whom we’re affectionately referring to as team ET. Today, we’re visiting Atlanta, Georgia to chat with our guest, Ms. Bernadette Boas, and if we’re lucky, we may be joined by her four-legged best friend, Coco. Bernadette Boas is a renowned ball of fire in everything she does, from her corporate executive coaching, training and speaking, to playing pickleball and loving on tons of dogs that she cares for in her spare time. With Ball Of Fire coaching, Bernadette brings her 25 years corporate executive savviness with her entrepreneurial spirit to transform corporate executives, teams and businesses around the globe into the powerhouse leaders they’re meant to be. With what she’s called her pink slip to freedom, Bernadette authored her first in a series of books, Shedding the corporate Bitch: Shifting from Bitch to Rich in Life and Business.

0:01:08.6 WB: During our conversation today, you’ll hear Bernadette and I chatting about a central theme of who not to become as you ascend that corporate ladder. She’s coined a couple of great expressions that we explore in our conversation, such as, “making money is 80% mindset and 20% skill.” And, “shedding your bitches of fear, so you create riches in your work and life.” And you’ll hear that Bernadette defines the word, “bitch,” to refer not so much to the outer persona that’s displayed to the world, but to the things happening within that person that are triggering this outer behavior. Bernadette is the founder and CEO of two aspiring Atlanta, Georgia-based companies; The Boas Group, which is a business management and consulting practice, and Ball of Fire Inc., a media, communications and publishing firm, and home to the mega brand, Shedding the Bitch, which is focused on the health, wealth and prosperity of individuals and organizations.

0:02:05.5 WB: Prior to starting her companies in 2008, Bernadette spent over 25 years driving change and delivering significant revenue and profitability improvements to clients such as Walmart, Target Corporation, Office Depot, Sears, American Retail Group and many others, in both consulting and in management leadership positions. She’s an active board of advisors member for Bring On The Music organization, an active member of CEO Space International and Atlanta Women in Business. So, team ET, are you ready for some tough love from a lady that pulls no punches about the challenges of corporate life and what it can do to you? If so, then get ready for this episode titled, Transforming A Corporate Villain Into A Corporate Solution.

0:02:58.0 Speaker 2: Welcome to the ET Project, a podcast for those executive talents determined to release their true potential and create an impact. Join our veteran coach and mentor, Wayne Brown, as we unpack an exciting future together.

0:03:16.9 WB: Welcome, team ET, to another fantastic week. Great to have everybody here again. Today, we’re travelling over to the US again, as usual, but to Atlanta, Georgia. So I’m not sure how many of you have had the pleasure of travelling over there. I spent a lot of my career traveling back and forth to Atlanta, so I know it very well. I’m really excited to introduce Bernadette Boas to our show today. Bernadette is an extraordinary person. We’re gonna unpack that as we go through the conversation. But Bernadette, welcome to The ET Project.

0:03:47.8 Bernadette Boas: Thank you, Wayne. I appreciate it. It’s a good day to be alive.

0:03:51.7 WB: As we mentioned, I normally kick off by saying, do you have any fun facts about yourself or about anything that you’d like to talk about?

0:04:00.0 BB: One would be, because it explains to people my personality, one is that I’m one of 12 children and I’m the eighth of those 12. I have six brothers and five sisters, so that is unique for many, at the same time, it really kind of explains being a middle child. It explains to people the gregarious, outgoing, loud individual that I’m often described as. The other things would be, I have two passions that start with P. I play pickleball, if you’re familiar with pickleball.

0:04:38.4 WB: I’m not.

0:04:40.1 BB: And then, I love puppies. So pickleball, and then this is pickleball. So pickleball is a kind of a condensed combination of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, and I was introduced to it about four or five years ago, and it totally reignited my athletic, sport, competition, internal side, and I absolutely, absolutely love it. And then the other one is puppies, so I tend to be known as a dog whisperer here, around town, and people bring me their dogs to take care of and watch on my free time, ’cause I have a great backyard, and plus I absolutely love puppies.

0:05:22.3 WB: And do you have…

0:05:23.3 BB: One or two of them may call out while we’re talking.

0:05:26.1 WB: That answered the question I was gonna ask. Do you have your own dogs? And obviously, yes.

0:05:30.5 BB: I have one and I’m watching another. So yes.

0:05:34.5 WB: Pickleball, how many people play? Like, at one time… Is it an individual thing you hit against the wall or over a net, or how do you play the game?

0:05:43.8 BB: Well, it’s on a court that’s probably a third the size of a tennis court, and you could play singles, you could play gender doubles, or you can play mixed doubles. And I happen to play all three, especially when it comes to tournaments, ’cause I do compete. So it is a individual sport, but it’s also a team sport.

0:06:07.3 WB: Right. And were you a tennis player or a squash player in your early life? No?

0:06:13.3 BB: I was not. My sister… One of the five sisters I have introduced all of us to it about four years ago, and I just was obsessed the minute I put a paddle in my hand. And then ever since, now all five of us play and it’s just a lot of fun, especially when we’re together on our vacations or whatnot, and we can all go out on a court together, it’s quite… It’s just a lot of fun. And like I said, it just allows you to really… Other than the exercise, which I love, it just allows me to really tap into my competitive, athletic side again. It makes me feel young again.

0:06:53.9 WB: Yeah. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, right? We all need that energy every once in a while. Anything happening in your life or in the world right at the moment that’s got you excited?

0:07:06.0 BB: That has me excited. Well, I am doing some… It’s spring, yaay! So I am kind of getting my hands dirty out in my backyard and front yard, and just getting some help and coming in and really doing and focusing finally, it’s been a number of years I’ve had time to focus on really just re-igniting my outside living spaces. So, that has me excited that it’s spring and it’s daylight savings time, at least it is here. And the other thing that has me excited is I’m doing some fabulous, fun, hard but really transformative work and projects that have come up over the last, I would say, nine months, and it’s just… It’s keeping me very busy, but it’s also a lot of fun at the same time, which, why not have fun if you’re gonna work your little tail off, right?

0:08:06.7 WB: Absolutely. More fun, the better. Are you… In the States now, are you working back in person or are you very much virtual still?

0:08:19.0 BB: No, I’m definitely combination, and I have been for probably a… I guess since early last year, was when we first started… Well, I guess we were virtual still in the spring, and then I would say… Oh, I’m sorry, in the winter. And then I would say in spring, second quarter last year, they started asking for face-to-face time, and so… And now it’s not only face-to-face here in Atlanta, but now I’m traveling elsewhere to my clients. So, it’s a combination of both.

0:08:55.2 WB: I just had a vision pop into my head when you mentioned Atlanta again in spring. You have a wonderful park, and I’m just trying to remember where it is, up the main street somewhere there, a nice, big park. And I spent many hours in that park, roaming around. So yeah, I can visualize what it’s like there at the moment. It’d be beautiful, I can imagine.

0:09:16.8 BB: Yeah. It’s gorgeous, although it does look like the screen behind you, because [chuckle] it’s pollen season, and so everything is green. I mean, everything. Our cars are covered, our houses are covered, our clothes and bodies are covered when we go outside. So that’s the one thing, downside about spring, but then the output from it is absolutely beautiful, so I don’t complain. I just take a lot of Claritin. [laughter]

0:09:44.4 WB: Is Atlanta your home city? Is that where you were born and raised?

0:09:49.8 BB: No, no, no, no, all of my 11 brothers and sisters are in Philadelphia where we were raised. So, I was in Philly, I went down to Boca Raton for college, stayed there for about 12 or 13 years, and then I’ve been in Atlanta since ’95, right before the Olympics.

0:10:07.4 WB: Oh okay. Oh, yes, yeah, I remember, Olympic’s over there. So you went down to Florida, as you mentioned, for college as well as work, I believe. You moved from college to work. What did you study, by the way?

0:10:22.6 BB: I was a Business Management major student, yes. Yeah, so my degree is in business management.

0:10:28.2 WB: And when you first started work, what did you move into?

0:10:32.6 BB: Well, that’s interesting because it was kind of organic. Being one of 12, the expectation was set from an early age that if you wanted anything over and above what will keep you alive and fed, then you have to earn that yourself. So I was taking jobs, babysitting or whatnot, from the time I was 9 or 10, and then I was actually… I lied about my age and I got a gift wrapping job at a retail store when I was like 14. And so the next thing you know, I was in retail pretty much through high school, through college. So by the time I was in college, I also had some management experience. And by the time I graduated from college, I already had a corporate job in retail.

0:11:23.3 WB: And did you stay in retail or you shifted around through your career?

0:11:27.3 BB: Well, I stayed in retail, yes, I stayed in retail for most of my 20s because I just had the blessing of taking on some junior executive roles at a very early age. And then I was recruited, I was kind of yanked out of the last retail organization I worked for to be a retail consultant for a Fortune 500 technology company. It was just a natural, organic progression from being on the floor to being a buyer, to being in management, to then being in consulting within the retail space. So, I consulted with all the top retailers around the world, and then that just kept naturally progressing my career.

0:12:11.0 WB: Let’s jump into the actual story itself. I won’t interrupt you too much, I’ll let you tell the story before I come back in and ask some more questions, because it’s a very powerful story in itself. The outcome from the story is really, I think, something that everyone can learn something from. So, if you would like to share your corporate experience, might be a good way.

0:12:36.5 BB: Trauma. [laughter] Sure, I would love to. So as I was saying, I was in corporate for good many years, probably about 25, 30 years, into my late 40s, and had the blessing of having mentors along the way. So, one tip I would throw out to anyone is, whether you’re 10 or you’re 60, find those mentors and those sponsors out there. So I had the blessing of having great mentors along the way, and the last one was in a company that I worked with for 12 years, and we had the benefit of really supporting each other as he advanced, and he was ahead of me, so as he advanced, I advanced. And he brought me along, he mentored, coached, supported, advocated for me. And so I had some significant roles, everything from being that consultant to being a consulting partner, to be then heading up as a director and a vice president of a professional services development organization, and then even the chief knowledge officer of that organization, responsible for all the processes, procedures, those things that our field consultants needed to use.

0:13:55.6 BB: And then one day in late 2007, roughly, you know that Monday after Thanksgiving, you kind of either drag yourself into work or you are like me, and I ran into work and I was excited because the year was ending, we were closing out some great projects and initiatives, and I had a great plan for the following year, for 2008. But 30 minutes later, roughly, on that early Monday morning, I found myself in the parking lot with a pink slip in my hand and a single box of my 25-year career. And I was let go, I was fired by my mentor of 12 years.

0:14:38.0 BB: And so I stood there in the middle of that parking lot, totally perplexed. Yes, I was confused, I was angry, I was perplexed. I was just totally baffled as to how I landed up in this parking lot after all of the blood, sweat and tears, all of the great results that I created for the company. And in this case, specifically with him, even after supporting his advancement and helping him as much as he helped me. At the same time, for just a few seconds, as confused and emotional and angry as I was, there was a small part of me that was also very excited and very curious as to the opportunity this was providing me. And I kind of instead of focusing on the anger and the bitterness and the confusion and whatnot, for the first time in decades that I could remember, I focused on that positive piece, that little tiny thing within me that said, “There’s a great opportunity here.” Didn’t know what it was, but great opportunity here, you need to figure it out. Because the man that you trusted and revered and respected and really held dear to your heart, and I knew he felt the same way toward me, there had to be a reason that I was responsible for. So, I could certainly lash out like I did for 25 years and blame and deflect and hold everybody else accountable, but something told me I needed to take time and figure out the part that I played in it.

0:16:31.7 BB: So in the coming weeks and months, I made the decision right away I wasn’t going back to corporate, so I was… I immediately knew I was gonna use all of my extensive consulting and coaching and management experience to start my own business. But more importantly, I decided that I needed to go on a personal journey, what I ended up calling my “excavation of my soul.” And I needed to dig in really deep to understand the woman, the leader, the employee that I had become that landed me in that parking lot. So over the coming weeks and months, I really just asked myself some really deep, hard questions, and I would say about 11 or 12 months later, as I’m running… Starting my new business, and it’s 2008, late 2008 when all heck broke loose in the economy. I was out on a run with my dog, my previous dog who’s now passed, but I was out on a run with my dog at a park, and we’re kind of doing the circle. And for the year, I was trying to replay all of these different events and encounters and experiences in my life from childhood to that very day that caused me to land up in that parking lot. Why, what was it about me that caused this individual to make this really difficult decision?

0:18:11.8 BB: And all of a sudden as I’m running and I’m kind of playing this film of my life in my head, all of a sudden, she showed up. And when I say “She,” it was the me that had been projecting out into the world for the last 20-25 years, and she was a nasty tyrant of an individual, of a woman, of a leader, of a boss, of an employee, of a friend, of a lover, of a sister, of a daughter. And it physically, literally caused me to fall onto the ground in a pool of tears, of shame and disgust and humiliation and embarrassment and hurt, and just regret. And I don’t regret much, which we can talk about, but… So there I was, and I was like, “Oh my God, that is why I was fired. That is why I lost my 25-year career.

0:19:15.0 BB: That’s why I lost my identity that I was comfortable with and everything that went with it. And I thought, “Oh my… What am I gonna do?” I immediately was just like, “What do I do with this? How can I transform? How can I shift? How can I apologize and account for person I had become?” ‘Cause you can’t do that easily for 25 years of employees and vendors and partners and clients and friends and family, so I just… I kind of said, “Okay, I need to start… ” I’m a journaler. I’ve journaling since I was about eight or nine. My dad passed that discipline down to me and I love it. So I just started journaling and purging and just trying to recount why I had become her, because as a child, I was known as a sassy, precocious, loving, funny, kind, empathetic individual. And here, I even had comments afterwards, ’cause here was the birth of social media, of just how nasty and cool and curt and abrasive and demeaning and bully… Of a bully that I was.

0:20:33.2 WB: Right.

0:20:34.1 BB: And I just had to reconcile, where in the world did I go… Did I stray so far? And I kind of looked back and I saw the patterns of… We talked about the fact that I went from Philly down to South Florida for college, and it was there that I went from this middle-class, one of 12, hand-me-down, shit on a shingle, if you know that meal, it’s an army meal. It’s basically grub.

[chuckle]

0:21:09.2 BB: So I came from that upbringing and here, I moved to the east coast, Rodeo Drive, if you’re familiar with Rodeo Drive out in California?

0:21:19.9 WB: Yes.

0:21:21.5 BB: And it’s extremely affluent, and the kids I went to school with and friends of mine were extremely affluent, and if they weren’t, they were kind of those pretend affluent people. And I kind of saw that they had everything I wanted, so my goals were turning into those things that were all centered around power, position, and prosperity, and it wasn’t all the good aspects of them. It was all the very aggressive, very greedy, very materialistic aspects of power, position, and prosperity. That is what I truly wanted to obtain. I was very ambitious, I was very aggressive, and I was going to get those things. And I saw that my friends and the kids around me in the communities around me, they had all those things.

0:22:19.2 BB: And so I started watching the way they behaved, and how they behave was they used their money and their power and position to pretty much get what they want through very abrasive, very demeaning, very hurt type of behavior. Your typical bully, the typical nasty customer that walks in and expects that everybody’s gonna drop what they’re doing to respond to her, but guess what they do. And so I just started to kinda take on that persona expecting it was gonna be temporary. Expecting it was just gonna be what I needed to do in order to obtain the salary and the position in the corner office and everything that I wanted. And yet, as we know, masks can become permanent and those behaviors can start to bleed into your every being, part of your every being. And so the next thing you know, for the next 25, 30 years, I was that individual. And through my excavation of my soul and those questions I was asking which are, if you ever wanna figure out who you’re meant to truly be, you ask yourself the really deep questions that few of us, and I’m sure you know this, Wayne, few of us ask, and that is, Who am I?

0:23:45.2 BB: But the real, Who am I? Not the, Oh, I’m an author, speaker, sister, wife, whatever. But really, who am I and who do I wanna be? Why am I working my tail off? Why am I loving as much as I’m loving? Why am I wanting to be and contributing to the world? Why is it and who is it I wanna become? And then things like, what do I want? What do I not want? What makes me happy? What doesn’t make me happy? What are my values? The qualities and the traits and morals that I want as a compass for who I am and how I want to live. So I just started asking all those questions and decided that I was going to document them from my journal… In the journals I was scribbling in, into a book because I definitely needed to help other people not go down the same path that I went down. And so that’s where everything that I live and breathe and talk and coach and train on is all around all of those aspects.

0:24:53.3 WB: And your book is called “Shedding the Corporate Bitch?”

0:24:56.2 BB: It is. “Shedding the Corporate Bitch: Shifting Your Bitches to Riches in Life and Business” because… And I wanna make sure it’s clear, I did start writing the book with the thought process that I’m writing about a very nasty individual, but it turned out… Who people call a bitch… But it turned out that what I was writing about was really the fears, insecurities, negativities, intimidations, low self-worth, low self-esteem that cause people to then lash out on those around them and including themselves. And that today, and for probably the last 10 years, that today is what I call the bitches is… Are your fears and insecurities and negativities not a person. And so that is what I captured in the book. And then what I’ve captured ever since in the work that I do.

0:25:56.3 WB: It’s a fantastic story, maybe not when you were living it in real life, it’s a great story to listen to. I’m really curious, as you mentioned, you had a series of mentors. You had a mentor during that 12-year period. Was nobody walking with you and saying, “And you know, Bernadette, your behavior is not really what we want.” Was it people were fearful of you or you just weren’t hearing it?

0:26:18.9 BB: That’s a great question about the fearful. I loved making people scared of me, that was my mindset. I loved walking into a room and getting people kind of all nervous and uncomfortable because of my so-called power and position, but really no, no one ever spelt it out in that way. No, and you’re making me think that, yes, I’m using this word mentor, and yet you would expect a mentor to give you that very honest, brutal feedback. But also keep in mind, corporate is corporate, right? All they really are thinking about are the results, is how much does someone produce, how much does someone contribute, how much does someone earn for them? So I was a revenue generator. I was an output producer, and I was extremely high achieving, and so no one… As long as I was getting the job done. And you know that infamous comment that many management members will make to you is… You do one thing really great and you get it done, or maybe you delivered on something and their first statement is, “What are you gonna do for me today?” So that was kind of the attitude of many is kind of like, “Okay, great, what are you gonna do for me today?” And no one ever sat down and just said, “This isn’t working. I need you to change your approach.”

0:28:05.8 BB: And had they, ’cause I get this a lot too, had they kind of dangled the threat of my ambition, the threat of that power position and prosperity that I was so desperate to achieve, that would have caused me to kinda go, “Wait a minute.” At first I might be defensive. At first, I might even be abrupt because I don’t wanna hear it. At the same time, if they had kind of painted the picture that I am putting at risk those goals and ambitions that I had for myself, then I… That’s what it takes for someone to kind of pop their head up out of the sand and pay attention, and yet that never happened. And so I coach and train and provide guidance to managers today that tap into someone’s motivations, their agenda, their goals, and if you need a change from them or you need something different or better or new, then dangle that in front of them and make them pay attention ’cause that will get their attention if they feel that their ambition is at risk in any way, shape or form.

0:29:22.2 WB: I read you wrote a comment somewhere, it might be on your website or something, essentially saying, you need to be aware of the expectations of you as the leader, and I think that’s so true. The question of course is, what’s the approach to develop that understanding? Do you just have the open conversation with the senior management, how would you coach the people that you… Your clients in that situation?

0:29:53.7 BB: Right. Well, it really comes down to what I even mentioned about what you have to do in self-assessing yourself first is you need to decide for yourself, who do you wanna be? Who do you wanna be as, in my case, as a woman, as a sister, as a lover, as a friend, as a client, as a vendor, who do I wanna be as a leader? And then kind of, where am I now? So you do kind of a gap analysis. So where do I fit in in meeting those expectations that I have of myself? But then, yes, but then yes, I would suggest and recommend and coach anyone to then say, then go also find out from your leaders, and well, I would actually start with from the people that work for you, from the people that you work with, and for the people that you work for, find out from them, what is your expectation of me, what do you need from me? How am I supporting you today, and am I positively kinda helping you gain or am I draining you? And really get a really good, full picture.

0:31:06.9 BB: I’ll tell you a quick story that people gasp at when I share it with them. So in that first year, year-and-a-half of my excavation of my soul, I was on a beach vacation a yearly beach vacation with my five sisters and my mother. And I wanted to specifically get their input, what you just asked about. I wanted to get their expectation of me and their perception of me, and so I invited them out to cocktails, which wasn’t hard to do. So I invited them out to cocktails and we all had our Cosmopolitan in front of us, and I basically said to them, “I want you to give me one word descriptions, good, bad, or ugly. I want you to give me one word descriptions of me, and I want it to come from not just like the surface or the external, but how do I make you feel?” And so they, in a very short period of time, was able to fill up like a page and a half of just one word statements, and trust me when I say good, bad and very ugly. And they loved doing it because they were given the freedom and the permission to do it.

0:32:26.8 BB: And I went into it preparing myself to receive it. Like, “Yes. You’re going to get defensive. Yes, you’re going to get hurt, yes, you’re going to be excited because of good stuff they’re sharing,” and I think anyone that is listening and watching this, that’s the position they need to take when they go to seek feedback. You’re not going to just check a box. Like yes, I asked for feedback. You wanna go with the positive intention of learning something from it. And if you’re going to people, which is another really key tip is you need to find those people that you do respect, you do trust, you do know that are gonna be completely honest with you, but they’re gonna do it in a very loving and supportive way. And by doing so, it will kind of take down a lot of the bars that you’re gonna put up immediately when it comes to feedback of any kind. ‘Cause many of your listeners and viewers probably have as much challenge getting good feedback, “Oh no, that’s not me. Oh no, it wasn’t any big deal. Oh no, no it was just my job.” They have a very difficult time, what I call honoring the riches, as much as they have hard times hearing about their bitches, about the fears and insecurities and the impact they’re having on others. So I would just suggest you do that type of… You seek that type of feedback if you really do wanna become a better and evolved individual.

0:34:15.1 WB: Yeah. So really, it’s the whole feedback culture that needs to exist within an organization, whether it’s receiving or giving, and having that transparency, having that trust, that psychological safety environment where everyone feels comfortable enough to actually say what’s real, not sugarcoat it, not hide the reality, to make it dynamic. I just put together a program at the moment which touches on this using the online gaming methodology and design of principles with feedback. So if you visualize online gaming, you’re receiving constant feedback, not always good, not always bad, but is always present. I believe that as leaders, if we can somehow encapsulate that and bring it into the corporate space where the culture is one of feedback on a daily basis, not a semi-annual, bi-annual, annual performance review, then life would be…

0:35:18.4 BB: Checklist.

0:35:19.6 WB: Checklist, yeah. Life would be so much healthier within the corporate space as a starting point.

0:35:24.8 BB: Absolutely.

0:35:26.4 WB: It’s fully onboard with me.

0:35:29.8 BB: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. If leaders are feeling frustrated and challenged as to why their people aren’t doing what they need to be doing, should be doing, they want them to be doing, all they have to do is look at themselves. Don’t look at your people. Not to say that your people aren’t… Maybe have a productivity issue, but most likely it’s the fact that they just aren’t real clear and have a really good understanding from you as far as what’s expected of them. So I always… I don’t bring a physical mirror with me, maybe I should, because I just wanna… I just go like this all the time. I’m like, “You need to turn it on you.” And then once you figure out your part in it, then you can go and talk with them about it.

0:36:19.1 BB: But again, I do wanna mention really quick, I have this… It’s like my mantra and all my clients know it. And they even say it before I say it, in a lot of cases, and it’s all around the feedback that you’re talking about too, has to be approached in a way that’s going to be positive and constructive in a dialogue. And too often people are just making statements. And so what I always say is, “Leaders, you need to focus on asking questions, not making statements,” and that would make their interaction and their feedback so much easier for them, but also constructive and productive for the person receiving it. And yet too often they just go in and start making statements and wonder why the employee is defensive or abrasive or upset or non-responsive.

0:37:16.8 WB: I think the days are fast diminishing where performance style management versus achievement management or achievement focus is becoming more the norm, so… I hope at least. [chuckle]

0:37:35.8 BB: Right.

0:37:38.7 WB: I very much hope. You have a great marketing mind. I don’t know if you did all the branding and website design and everything yourself, but I was very impressed by the quality of the message that you have online. And I think it’s very clear, it’s very direct, which speaks to the type of person you are, I can sense. But it is also, as you mentioned, it’s a very positive message, so whilst it may appear hard, it’s hard in a nice way.

0:38:14.0 BB: Good, thank you. Yeah, thank you for that. Thank you for that. You know, it hasn’t happened overnight and I haven’t done it in the backroom. At the same time though, it was funny ’cause when I wrote the book and I sent the manuscript to the publisher, publishers don’t like… I’ll just use the book title as an example. So the publishers don’t like the same word being used in the title and in the sub-title. He says, “So we need to kind of think about switching that up,” because I came up with that. Now, there is a great story behind that, but I’ll finish this. So he said, “So let me read it first, and then I’ll come up with a different subtitle,” ’cause he loved the title. And I said, “Okay, fair enough.” I was open. This is 12 years ago, I wasn’t an expert in marketing and branding. And so he comes back and he goes, “There’s no other word or description or sub-title I would use, ’cause that’s exactly what it is that you’re writing about.” And so it just kind of, over time, it has turned into me. Like, I appreciate your feedback on the verbiage and the messaging and the approach, because it reflects that it’s just not my very abrasive, abrupt, old self, but it’s more my direct, honest, vulnerable, new self. And I’ve gotten to a point where I have to tell you like it is, because if… ’cause I won’t change, I want you to change and you’re not gonna change if I’m just waffling around it, so and I appreciate that feedback.

0:39:55.5 WB: Yeah, great. Your company is called Ball of Fire consulting, if I’m correct.

0:40:00.0 BB: Yes, yes.

0:40:01.8 WB: Yes? And then you have your social media side which leverages more the book title. And so you have Shredding the Corporate Bitch, or Shredding… I have it somewhere…

0:40:11.5 BB: Shedding.

0:40:12.0 WB: Shredding the Corporate Bitch TV on YouTube. And you have a phenomenal amount of material, videos, training material available. It’s a huge resource, I have to say. It’s incredible.

0:40:28.0 BB: Thank you. Thank you, thank you. I just need to tell that to millions of people out there, that there’s this great resource out there. I had the luxury of… When I started writing my book, I knew before, I don’t know what told me this, maybe my dad being a… He was a corporate guy who turned entrepreneur as well, and… But something told me that I needed to start messaging and start helping people, even long before the book was gonna be published. At the time… ’cause this is 2010. At the time, it was internet radio. And so, I started Shedding The Bitch radio in 2010, long before podcasting and whatnot, and I’ve had it ever since. And yet, I did evolve it to include the “corporate” in the title, because like I said… Well, I didn’t mention. I would say about 2016, I had been focusing only on entrepreneurs ’cause I didn’t wanna go back to corporate and get triggered into that person I used to be.

0:41:32.0 BB: And then in 2016, I don’t even know why, but all of a sudden, I started getting referred to corporate organizations for my work. So last year, it took till last year when I finally said, “You know what? I really wanna just really laser focus in on those corporate executives. Entrepreneurs, I still have a huge community of, but I really wanna make sure that these messages are getting across to those corporate professionals who are both struggling and/or advancing. But I need them, I want them to be powerhouse leaders, and they want to be powerhouse leaders. And so I started… It’s evolved over the last 12 years, very much so.

0:42:17.3 WB: It sounds like a very fine line, and I’m just trying to visualize it, but it sounds like a fine line when you talk about powerhouse leader to the leader that you try to move away from. And I can imagine you would spend a lot of time trying to define that with your clients to make sure that they don’t fall into that negative space, but it’s the positive leaders that you’re creating.

0:42:44.0 BB: Right. Yeah, no, I actually… It doesn’t take a lot of time, because what I do is I explain that the powerhouse I want them to be is authentic and transparent and empathetic and compassionate and a servant leader, and that is what gives you power, ’cause… That’s a great comment and observation, Wayne. Because my goals of power, position and prosperity, as I mentioned, were all centered on the materialistic and the greed aspect, but as I… Over the last 12 years and especially these last, I would say, eight or nine, those goals went to everything but materialistic greed. Now, I still want power, prosperity and position, but they’re not in the vein of greed and materialism. I want power, you can call it influence, but a P word sounds better, right? From a marketing perspective. So power, position. Position, I want a place where I can influence and I can be transformative and I can help others achieve their goals. And then prosperity is, I wanna be rich in self-love, self-confidence and happiness and joy and contentment, fulfillment. And of course, it’s not as if I don’t wanna be able to eat and don’t want to live a nice life, it’s just, I give up work today, because if it’s not worth my energy…

0:44:14.4 BB: And you had said something about the positive and the negative. I want nothing to do with drama and the negative that I used to create. I want nothing to do with it. So, I spend a lot of time… My whole philosophy is 80% mindset, 20% skill set. I spend a great deal of time in my head, ensuring that the second something comes in that is negative or degrading or demeaning to myself, let alone if I’m gonna start projecting it to somebody else, I have to switch it. It just has to get shifted. And so, I talk to myself a great deal because of the fact that I just want… I don’t want anything to do with… Somebody asked me yesterday, “If you had to give up one thing; social media or watching TV,” they said, “Which one would you give up?” And I was like, “Social media in a heartbeat,” just because it’s just so… It’s just so negative and so judgmental at times. Not what I’m putting out or contributing to, but you can’t open up your phone or your laptop without just all kinds of junk. Now, TV, I don’t turn the TV on much either, just ’cause the news is also one of those things that just totally drains every aspect of joy within me. Yeah.

0:45:38.5 WB: There’s a lot of discussion at the moment about the dark triad, when we talk about psychology and the dark triad being narcissists and Machiavellians and psychopaths. The more I think about it and talk about it and look back at my own career of 45 years now, I encountered so many people that fall into that category. And I’m just wondering, in your career, did you also observe this, or the fact that you were somehow swept up in that yourself, were you blind to how other people were?

0:46:14.7 BB: Oh, absolutely. Well, first off, you attract who you are, right? That law of attraction, what you put out in the universe comes back to you. And that was probably one of the things that I reconciled quickly, was I saw that everything I was putting out in that very nasty, demeaning, abrasive, and I would say a degree of narcissism, I thought my crap didn’t stink. I definitely had that type of self-image of myself, and so I attracted those things in my life. I attracted those types of people. And when I really started excavating my soul, I started looking at, “Oh my gosh, I was receiving exactly what I was getting.” Now, I was challenged on a very popular radio show a couple years ago. I was challenged, the fact that, well, being nasty, a nasty person got me into the corner office and a C-level position and a salary and a nice house, and yada, yada, yada. And I said, “You know, you’re absolutely right. But it also caused me to self-medicate in a variety of ways, and it just caused me to kind of have a degree of self-loathing and self-hate for myself.” And I was miserable and unhappy, and wondered and questioned why I didn’t have true friends or a real relationship, or… I just didn’t have what I really, ultimately discovered it down deep in my belly that I really wanted. And so ever since then, I can smell them when they’re coming.

0:47:55.5 BB: And it’s one reason why I think around 2015, 2016, by this time it’s been out there for seven or eight years, my name and my brand and whatnot, and I think that’s why people started coming to me, because they themselves or they knew someone within their organization that was the same style that I was. And therefore, they figured, “Who better?” Who better to pull them out than the person who was there, in the same position not long ago? And plus, I’d like to say I’m evidence that anybody can change and transform.

0:48:35.9 WB: It can be turned around. Bernadette, it’s an engrossing story, we could talk for ages. I’m very conscious of the time, and… Is there anything that we haven’t touched on that’s important, that you would like to share about the journey and where you are now, what you want people to take away?

0:48:54.9 BB: Well, I would kind of just touch on what I brushed over around the 80% mindset, 20% skill set. A deep resume of jobs and college degrees and awards and accolades, that’s fabulous. I don’t wanna dismiss that in any way, shape or form. However, if you’re not working on your mindset, if you’re not working on becoming confident and bold and empowered and willing to take risks and feeling self-worth and value, then you’re never gonna leverage… You’re never gonna really get advantage out of all of that skill set that you have. And so I learned through my own journey that it does… I’m not kidding, it does take 80% of my time and energy to ensure that I stay really where I wanna be and how I wanna be, from a mindset and a heart perspective. And so I would just really strongly suggest to anyone to really find those tools, those resources that you can use to work on your mindset, work on learning who you are, who you truly want to be, what the gap is, and fill in that gap. And so, that’s what I would leave anybody with.

0:50:17.4 WB: And most of your client base are female, I’m guessing. I know you target females, but now you have male clients as well. Fantastic.

0:50:28.3 BB: It’s so funny how I do market to women, and yet I get men all the time. So I would say it’s like 60:40. I would say it’s 60:40, yeah.

0:50:38.9 WB: I’m just visualizing so many men that you’re describing perfectly.

0:50:47.8 BB: There’s a lot more women than you realize too, that fit my profile as well.

0:50:52.3 WB: It might be. It may be, yeah. Where can people find you and connect with you if they’d like to learn more about you?

0:51:01.1 BB: Right. Well, I would love them to come and join me on my podcast, Shedding The Corporate Bitch. There’s a new episode every Tuesday, anywhere you get your podcasts. But they can also go to balloffirecoaching.com, and that’s where you’ll see everything from who I am, what I do, what my clients’ experiences are, and you can actually access the podcast from there as well.

0:51:25.6 WB: It’s an incredible journey and an incredible story, and I wish you all the best going forward. I know it’s never easy. I don’t wanna say it’s like Alcoholic Anonymous, but it’s somehow… Keeping the straight and narrow is an everyday challenge for all of us, I believe, regardless of where you’re coming from. So, all the best with the business, and I really think people can learn so much from the journey that you’ve been on and that you’re sharing, so I really hope our listeners connect with you and reach out. So thank you.

0:51:57.0 BB: Thank you, it was great.

[music]

0:52:01.8 Speaker 2: Thank you for joining us on the ET Project, a show for executive talent development. Until next time, check out our site for free videos, e-books, webinars and blogs at coaching4companies.com.

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